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Cornell University Library 

HD 3488.A3S37 

Wholesale co-operation In Scotland, the 

3 1924 013 906 825 

























Wholesale Co-operation 
in Scotland 

(1868— 1918) 








Glasgow : 

The Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society Limited 

95 Morrison Street 


y45 s^r 










It will be news to many readers, although probably not 
to most, that Scotland has a double title to be regarded 
as the Mecca of Co-operative pilgrims who wish to visit 
the scenes of the earliest known Co-operative experiments. 
Documentary evidence has established the fact that the 
Fenwick Weavers' Society* practised Co-operation, in the 
sense in which " Co-operation " is conceived by consumers 
who club together for economic advantage, in 1769 — or, 
let us say, one hundred and fifty years ago. That is the 
earhest Co-operative Society in Great Britain, or anywhere 
else, of whose existence documentary proof has been 
brought to light. Upon that fact rests Scotland's first 
title. The second title rests upon the fact that two 
Scottish societies still trading have had a longer 
continuous existence than any other societies in the 
kingdom — if not in the whole world. These two societies 
are the Bridgeton Old Victualling Society (Glasgow), 
which was established in 1800, and the Lennoxtown 
Friendly Victualling Society, which was established in 
1812. The natural law is so strongly predisposed to 
Co-operationt in every sense that it may be assumed that 
Cq-operation, even in the trading sense, showed itself in 
many places and in many forms during the centuries that 
passed before the Fenwick experiment, notwithstanding 

* See p. 22 and Appendix I. 

t " AH are needed by each one ; 

Nothing is fair or good alone." — Emerson. 


the fact that no contemporary writings have been 
unearthed to prove this view. Many little societies 
followed those I have mentioned.* In their way, these 
little societies were all charming manifestations of the will 
to exist ; but circumstances were against their becoming 
the Co-operative societies of to-day just as circumstances 
are against the wild rose of the wayside becoming, of 
itself, a Sunburst or a Gloire de Dijon. With the spread 
of education among the working-classes, and with 
inspiration drawn from their own experiences, later 
generations of Co-operators devised means to protect 
their societies from the withering blasts that blew from 
without, and also devised means to develop their societies 
from within. Experiences, that were sometimes unhappy, 
showed that Co-operative societies spread over the 
country could do a great deal to help the people who made 
use of them ; but showed also that these societies could 
do a great deal more if they themselves co-operated than 
if each society remained an isolated unit. Co-operation 
between societies, or the federation of societies, seemed 
only a rational development of Co-operation between 
individuals, and this development in Scotland has most 
frequently taken the form of federated baking societies. 
The federated baking societies are, as a rule, local in 
their operations.t but most Co-operative federations in 
Scotland, which are not purely local organisations, serve 
some single purpose or are concerned with some single 
trade.l The Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society 

* Over three hundred ejcisted in 1830. 

tThe United Co-operative Baking Society (Glasgow) is something more than 
a local organisation ; but it is unique in some respects. 

tE.g. Paisley Co-operative Manufacturing Society; The "Scottish Co-operator" 
Newspaper Society ; The Scottish Co-operative Laundry Association. 


differs from them all in its magnitude and in its scope. 
No trade, except the trade in intoxicating liquors, is 
without its scope ; no part of Scotland is outwith its 
territory ; as the local Co-operative societies grow, it 
grows. It is a national institution to the Co-operative 
mind because even the other Co-operative federations in 
Scotland are members of it. From the public point of 
view it may also be regarded as a national institution, 
because the societies which constitute its membership 
comprise over half a million men or women members who, 
with their families, account for more than half the 
population of Scotland. The Jubilee of such an 
Association warranted the publication — in the public 
interest as well as in the Co-operative interest — of a clear 
account of what the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale 
Society is ; how it is constituted ; how it came into being ; 
how, and by what stages, it has grown into the giant 
Association it now is ; and what it has actually done, 
during the past half century, to entitle it to claim the 
respect and tlae gratitude of the masses of the people of 
Scotland. To compile this account has been my task. 
I have already had the pleasure of preparing several Httle 
books* in which I have submitted records of the 
achievements of some local Co-operative societies that 
had completed fifty years of activity, and a similar task 
fell to me when the Lennoxtown Society celebrated its 
centenary.t These experiences, contrary to what one 
might expect, only increased the anxiety with which 
I faced the undertaking which the publication of this 

*" Alloa Co-operative Society" (1912); "Co-operation in Lanark" (1913); 
■"Co-operation in Sauchie" (1915). 

t" Memoirs of a Century" (1913). 


volume completes. Those little works dealt with local 
ventures which were, nevertheless, local triumphs for 
Co-operation. The volume now in the reader's hands is 
not a local record. It surveys half a century of massed 
Co-operative effort in Scotland. By it, some will judge 
whether there is wisdom in that form of collectivism which 
we call Voluntary Co-operation, or whether Co-operation 
is worth while. Some readers will begin with minds not 
favourably disposed to Co-operation, and I hope that they 
will not end their reading in the same disposition. The 
book, however, is written primarily for Co-operators who 
already know something of the Scottish Co-operative 
Wholesale Society. It is a Co-operative production. 
Men dead and gone have been among my collaborateurs ; 
for, although their voices are now hushed, their written 
records live, and have been readily placed at my disposal 
by their successors in the Co-operative movement. My 
indebtedness to living Co-operators is acknowledged 
elsewhere. The S.C.W.S. directors and officials have 
hot sought to influence my treatment of the subject, and 
they are therefore not committed to the views I express 
in these pages. I ought to add that the publication has 
come later than was intended ; but that ought not to be 
altogether regretted, as it has enabled me to view the war 
activities of the S.C.W.S. in truer perspective. 

J. A. F. 





I. Hardships of the Scottish People Before the Co- 
operative Era 1. 

II. Advent of Co-operation and Growth of the Movement 

tUl 1860 20. 

III. The Conception of Wholesale Co-operation and an 

Odd Result 3»^ 

IV. How the S.C.W.S. was Brought to Life 50 

V. Five Years of Experimental Effort 69' 

VI. Serious Storms Safely Weathered 87 

VII. Distributive Branches Denote and Aid Progress 100 

VIII. Productive Enterprises Follow Success in Distribution 114 

IX. The Society's Coming of Age and a. Retrospect 133- 

X. An Eventful Decade in which the Society Accepts a 

Challenge 144 

XI. The Society Carries its Flag Overseas 165 

XII. A Chapter of Memorable Events 178' 

XIII. The Last Decade and the Greatest 195 

XIV. A JubUee-year View of " The Wholesale " 235- 

XV. The Economic Influence of the Wholesale 243 

XVI. The Wholesale in Times of National Crisis 269. 

XVII. The Wholesale as a Social Influence 283 

XVIII. Conclusion 291 


I. " Morrison Street " 301 

II. The Central Premises 303 

III. The Grocery Departments 308- 

IV. Leith Grocery Branch 315 

V. Kilmarnock Grocery Branch 317 

VI. Dundee Grocery Branch 318 

VII. The Drapery Warehouse 320 

VIII. Furniture Warehouse and Showrooms 324 

IX. Edinburgh Furniture Warehouse 327 

X. Stationery and Advertising 329' 

XI. Insurance and Friendly Societies 334 

XII. The Paisley Road " Gusset " 338 

XIII. Other Glasgow Centres 340' 

XIV. Building and Allied Departments 342 

XV. Flour and Oatmeal Milling 346- 













































Creameries, Margarine Factory, and Milk Centres . . . 352 

Sausage, Ham-curing, and Bacon Factories 359 

Fish and Fish Curing 361 

Aerated Water Factories 363 

Shieldhall and its Interests 366 

Boot and Shoe Production and Tannery 370 

The Printing Department 374 

The Clothing Factories 379 

Shirts, Hosiery, and Underclothing 382 

The Cabinet Factory 387 

The Tinware Factory 390 

Productive Grocery Departments 393 

The Chemical and Sundries Department 396 

Tobaccos and Cigarettes 400 

Mechanical, Electrical, and Motor Engineering 403 

Brush Factory and Cooperage 404 

The Fire Brigade 405 

Wool Spinning and Weaving 406 

The Jute Mills 410 

Transport and Allied Departments 414 

Soap and Glycerine Works 418 

Wholesale Estates and Farms 422 

Tea and Cocoa Production 425 

Overseas Enterprises 430 

Retail Branches of the Wholesale 435 


Notes on the Fen wick Weavers' Society 440 

Statistics from First Scottish Co-operative Survey, 1 867 442 

Scottish Co-operative Statistics, 1911 443 

Scottish Co-operative Statistics, 1918 444 

Original Plan of the S.C.W.S 445 

First Quarterly Report of the S.C.W.S 446 

Descriptive Account of Procession at Opening of 

Central Premises 448 • 

Table Showing Progress of S.C.W.S. since 1868 450 

S.C.W.S. Capital Account, 1918 454 

Inventory of Land in Possession of the S.C.W.S., 1918 455 
Inventory of Buildings in Possession of the S.C.W.S., 

1 91 8 457 

Table Showing S.C.W.S. Employees at Date of Jubilee 

Celebrations 458 

Comparative Table showing Trading Relations 

between Wholesale and Retail Societies 459 

Committee and Officials at the Coming of Age 460 

Directors, Auditors, and Officials at Jubilee 461 

List of Elected Officials and Directors since 1868. . . . 464 

Jubilee Celebrations, 1 91 9 468 


Morrison Street, Glasgow Frontispiece. 

Robert Stewart, J.P Facing page xvi. 

John Pearson, J.P n 1 

William Maxwell, K.B.E i, 16 

Robert Macintosh, J.P ■ m 17 

David Dale and Owenite Associations n 22 

Old-time Scottish Co-operative Board n 23 

Pioneers of the S.C.W.S. m 26 

Early English and Welsh Helpers , , . n 27 

The Two General Managers " 32 

Survivors of the Original Board ^ 33 

The Society's Secretaries — 1868-19X8 n 48 

The Only Treasurers of the S.C.W.S n 49 

Directors before Mr Barrowman's Retirement in 1881 ... n 64 

Joint Group English and Scottish C.W.S. Directors, 1897 m 65 

Group of Joint Buyers, 1897 n 80 

Some Veteran Officials in 1918 n 81 

More Veteran Officials n 96 

Board of Directors, 1899 n 97 

Jubilee Year Group of Directors n 112 

S.C.W.S. Finance Committee, 1918 US' 

S.C.W.S. Grocery Committee, 1918 .i 128 

S.CW.S. Drapery Committee, 1918 n 129 

Auditors at Jubilee m 144 

The S.CW.S. Supreme Court n 145 

A Federation of the World h 176 

Distinguished Visitors at Shieldhall n 177 

Original Site at 95 Morrison Street n 192 

S.C.W.S. Central Premises ii 193 

At the Central Premises n 208 

The Grocery Departments ii 209 

The Grocery Departments — ^Elevation of New Warehouse n 224 

Leith Grocery and Provision Warehouse m 225 

Drapery Warehouse, Glasgow (exterior) n 240 

Drapery Warehouse, Glasgow (interior) n 241 

Glasgow Furniture Warehouse — One of the Showrooms . . „ 256 

China, Crockery, and Glassware Department ii 256 

Music and Musical Instruments Department n 257 

Jewellery Saleroom n 257 


Stationery Warehouse and Showroom Facing page 272 

Chancelot Flour Mills 273 

Regent Flour Mills i, 288 

JEnnisldllen Premises ■. n 289 

Fish and Fish Curing n 304-305 

A Hive of Industry „ 320 

Spinning and Weaving Mills n 321 

Wool Bings and Carding Room at Ettrick n 352 

Taybank Works — Jute Preparing and Spinning n 353 

Taybank Works — Jute Yarn Winding and Weaving. ... u 368 

The Wholesale's Prize Stud ,i 369 

Opening of Calderwood Castle n 384 

Belgian Refugees at Calderwood Castle n 385 

Tea Production — Estates of the E. and S. C.W.S „ 400 

Views on the Tea Estates ' u 401 

Employees on the Tea Estates n 416 

Blending and Packing Tea at the London Warehouse.. n 417 

West African Enterprises m 424 

Views of Cape Coast Castle „ 425 

Luton Cocoa and Chocolate Works n 432 

The Society's Retail Branches m 433 


JPage 26 (nineteenth line from top). — ^For "are on" read "are not on." 
Page 31 — For " Mr Littlejohn, M.P.," read " Mr Littleton, M.P." 
Page 146 (tenth line from bottom). — For " 1840 " read " 1890." 
Page 212 (seventh line from bottom). — For " legislation " read "litigation.' 



Elected Director 1899. Elected President 1908. 


Mr JOHN. PEARSON, J. P., Provost of Alloa 
Ejected Director 1888. Elected Secretary 1907. 








Scotland has the credit of having enacted Compulsory 
Education by an Act* of the Scots Parhament passed as early 
as 1494. It is true that it only applied to a small section of 
the people, the Barons and Freeholders, who were to be mulct 
in fines of ;f20 if they did not " put their sons to the schules, 
fra they be sex or seine yeiris of age " ; but these were the 
people who dominated the country, and the Act, for its time, 
was an acknowledgment of the indispensabUity of education foi 
those who had to do, or were at least expected to do, serious 
thinking. At that time Scotland, with a population of less 
than a million, had three universities for England's two. There 
were grammar schools and high schools and a variety of 
elementary schools in every part of the country, all of which 
served a useful purpose, and many of which were taken advan- 
tage of to a considerable extent. John Knox formulated the 
ideal of " a school in every parish, a higher school or coUege 
in cities and large towns, and university education." Between 
1560 and 1620 attempts were made by the Scots Parliament to 
encourage learning, and many privileges similar to Benefit of 
Clergy were granted to those who were considered scholars. t 
But education was as costly in Scotland as in other places — 
except in a few schools — and it was so costly in universities 

* "Acts of the Scots Parliament," Chap. Liv. 
t Cleland's " Annals of Glasgow." 


that students at these universities were granted speciaJL 
permission to beg abns. 

In the three succeeding centuries, the Scottish Universities, 
according to Chambers's Encyclopaedia, did the special service 
of suppl3^ng the want of those secondary schools which formed 
part of John Knox's proposed national system, but which were 
not achieved owing to the poverty of the country and the 
selfishness of the leading nobility. Even the provision of the 
parish school was not carried out rapidly. In 1616 the Privy 
Council ordained that there should be a school in every parish. 
The injunction was ignored, and the Scots Parliament found 
it necessary to pass Acts for the same purpose in 1633, 1645, 
and 1696 ; which made it clear that, for one reason or another, 
there must have been many parishes without schools ; and the 
ideal was not in fuU application even in the middle of the 
nineteenth century.* It would be easy to understand why 
people did not send their children to schools where these existed. 
The reasons for that would be similar to the reasons which 
prevent parents from agreeing readily to the raising of the 
school-leaving age to-day, even in Scotland, and which make 
many parents in England resentful of any attempt to abolish 
the half-time system. These reasons are either the poverty or 
the selfishness of the parents. The poverty of the parents, 
however, did not constitute the chief reason for the disobedience 
to the Acts of Parliament cited. These Acts were not framed 
to compel people to send their children to parish schools ; they 
simply ordered that there should be a school in every parish 
to which people could send their children if they wished them 
to be educated. The reason why these schools were not provided 
seems also to have been economic ; for, more than a century 
ago, Cleland, in the Annals already quoted, excuses himself from 
entering into a refutation of " the illiberal arguments brought 
against the principle of educating the lower orders of the people " 
because the whole case had been put, shortly before he wrote 
his Annals, by " a respectable writer on poUtical science." This 
respectable writer had to controvert the argument (of the 
opponents of the education of the poor) " that even being 
able to read renders the lower classes of the people impatient 
of labour, dissatisfied with their condition, turbulent in their 
* Kerr's " Scottish Education in School and University." 


disposition, and apt to find fault with the reUgious and political 

establishments of the country." These same opponents of the 

poor also argued that the wants of society required " that some 

be- employed in the lowest and most degrading offices " ; and 

those who took that view naturally enquired " to what purpose 

will it be to improve the lives of those who can be happy only 

in proportion as their ideas are grovelling and unrefined." Such 

were the views that a Glasgow political scientist had to combat 

at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The views were 

not new. Every new ascendancy that has come has attributed 

such views to the preceding ascendancy. In Scotland the 

Reformers attributed these views to the clergy of the Pre- 

Reformation period ; Liberal poUticians have blamed Tory 

pohticians for putting such views into practice, and the poUtical 

representatives of Labour blame Tory and Liberal alike for 

allowing the rich to keep the poorer classes in ignorance. There 

was some method in the madness of those who kept the doors 

of the school locked and barred against the common people, 

or who forgot to provide a schoolmaster. The position was 

much the same as in Ireland, where permission would be 

ostentatiously given to erect a school and a site for the school 

refused. Plain living, they say, notoriously leads to high 

thinking ; and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing for some 

people when it is possessed by those whose environment conduces 

to high thinking. The environment of the Scots people in the 

last two centuries was certainly plain enough to conduce to the 

high thinking, and many were fortunate if they could even count 

upon a plain Uving ; for in the beginning of the eighteenth 

century, when there was less than a million of a population, 

there were 200,000 vagrants who simply begged their way about 

the country.* The Captain of Industry as we know him to-day 

may curtail the educational opportunities of his " hands " ; 

but he will rarely employ an illiterate if there is a choice ; he 

prefers one who has some slight elementary knowledge, sufiicierit 

at least, to be able to read and write and count a little. There 

are, as we all know, employers who encourage their employees 

to undertake educational courses ; but, with a few honourable 

exceptions, such employers are only assisting their workers to 

become more profitable servants. That is the more elegant way 

♦Fletcher of Saltoun. 


of putting it ; and the red-hot Socialist would say more bluntly 
that such employers only want to make the worker able to 
produce more wealth for them. The dominant class to-day is 
the capitalist-employing class. The dominant class up till the 
eighteenth century had passed, and well into the nineteenth 
century, was the class which comprised the nobles and the 
landowners who had bought land from the nobles, or to whom 
it had become forfeit for the non-payment of money lent to the 
nobles. Well, the nobles and the landowners had no particular 
desire to see the masses of the people educated. There were 
the best of reasons why they should not be educated. If they 
were educated and could read, there was no knowing what they 
might read ; and if they read they might think, and there was 
no knowing what sturdy people might think, especially people 
who, for the greater part, had not a great deal to lose.. The 
nation had already thought the English yoke should be cast off, 
and, thanks to Bruce and the Abbot of Aberbrothock, it was 
done in both the temporal and spiritual senses. The nation had 
thrown over two forms of religion and had taken to a third. 
The nation had got rid of a queen, however divided opinions 
were on the subject ; and the people had been involved in wars 
over the ruling sovereign's right to rule. Their nobles, and their 
landlords, had led them ; but there was the danger that if 
schools were set up in every parish as the Parliament decreed, 
the people, with their outlook widened, might readily adopt the 
same questioning attitude to the nobles and the landowners 
that these same classes had led them to adopt towards others 
in power. There was, nevertheless, a very considerable affection 
for education among the people themselves. Devoutly religious 
men were not content to have the Bible read to them ; they 
yearned to read it for themselves, and it will be found, I believe, 
that the fervour of the religious life of those centuries did most 
to popularise the parish schools that did exist. The parish 
schoolmaster was not the " wage-slave " that many teachers 
account themselves to-day. He longed for pupils. He was 
father and friend as well as teacher. Some of these old worthies 
were scholars of brilliant attainments. It is nearly fifty years 
since the board school took the place of the parish school, and 
most of the old parish schoolmasters have passed away ; but 
occasionally one reads an obituary paragraph in the newspapers 


in which it is mentioned that the old worthy whose death is- 
chronicled was a parish schoolmaster. There must be but few of 
them left. Yet these old men sent brilliant students into the 
world ; and in more than one case it might be said that the 
schoolmaster of a little country parish parted with pupils 
equipped not only with the three " R's," but possessed of a keen 
enthusiasm for history and geography ; and with a knowledge 
of mathematics, Latin, and other higher subjects sufficient to 
carry them through the entrance examination at a university. 
The spread of education of that kind came late. If it had 
come earlier several things might have happened. The Union 
of Parliaments, for instance, would never have taken place, and 
many laws and customs that prevailed till comparatively recent 
times would not have been tolerated by the people. 

There grew up in Scotland a vigorous democratic tendency ; 
for the Scottish clans had, under their own laws and regard- 
less of the Statute Book, simply exercised in their own way the 
principle of " Self-determination," of which some races have 
heard for the first time since the present war began to reach 
the " Peace Rumours " stage. Side by side with the spirit of 
democracy there remained among the people the reproach that 
they " dearly loved a lord." In some parts of Scotland deference 
to the landlord, particularly if he be a titled landlord, is still 
very marked. In recent centuries it was stiU more marked ; 
it amounted to awe. Why this should have been so in the case 
of the Scottish people beggars comprehension ; for the Scottish 
nobles were for the most part predatory nobles in the fullest 
sense. They had aU the acquisitiveness of the nobles of their 
period in other countries ; but their greed and their selfishness 
were aggravated by their chronic impecuniosity. They had 
" lands and proud dwelhngs," as the song says ; but for the 
most part they led an uncouth existence. Their attitude to 
their tenants was almost like the attitude of the sugar planter 
to the slave. They held the power of the gallows over their 
tenants ; and not only had they that right, but they claimed 
it, and pit and gallows formed part of the equipment of the 
" big house " in more than one part of the country. When it 
occurred to the Government that tenants were human beings 
and their Uves human Uves, and that the landlord must be 
deprived of this arbitrary right to hang people, the landlords 


felt themselves aggrieved. They claimed compensation for being 
deprived of the right, and the speeches dehvered in 1914 in 
connection with the inauguration of the great Land Campaign 
(of which little is now heard) disclosed the fact that one of the 
last landed proprietors to claim compensation on this score was 
an ancestor of the present Duke of Sutherland, who, in 1748, 
demanded £10,000, but had to be content with £1,000.* 1 It is 
almost incredible that any Government should have paid com- 
pensation for such privation at such a comparatively recent 
datfe. The exactions of the Sutherland famUy were severe 
enough ; but. they were a wealthy family, and there is ample 
evidence on record of the hardships and tyranny to which the 
people were subjected when they were the tenants of "hard up" 
landlords who had tasted the pleasures of society, but found 
themselves short of the money necessary to open the doors of 
the gay and great. A perusal of the records of the Scottish 
nobles,! and the manner in which they grabbed the lands they 
stiU hold, leaves us with one great perplexity— how to explain 
the fact that the Scots are not rebels to a man. Whole tracts 
of land, worked and sown and tilled by tenants of the same 
family from generation to generation, were cleared of their 
people ; counties were almost denuded of their population ; 
islands were cleared of human beings except for the gamekeeper 
and his family and the " ladies and gentlemen " who frequented 
them in the shooting and fishing seasons. Smiling glens and 
merry hamlets were compulsorily evacuated in order that sheep 
might be set to grass. These clearances were effected with a 
frightfulness before which even detested war atrocities pale. 
People were sent to America without their consent ; old women 
and children, even when sick, were left on the roadside exposed 
to the elements, and there are cases on record in which old 
people or invalids were allowed to perish in houses burned down 
about them, assistance being wilfully withheld. J 

Barbarous as was the treatment of tenants by their land- 
lords, there were iniquities equally terrible — or almost as terrible 
— in industrial life. Fletcher of Saltoun, whose estimate of the 
number of vagrants at the beginning of the eighteenth century 

*Mr Lloyd George at Glasgow, 4th February 1914. 
t See " Our Noble Families," by T. Johnston. 
{Mackenzie's "Highland Clearances." 


has already been given, although a Republican, suggested slavery 
for these vagrants — ^pure and unadorned slavery. It sounds 
barbarous ; but at that time, and for ninety years longer, 
slavery existed in Scotland. On entering to a " coal work," 
or a salt mine, colliers and salters, independent of agreement 
between employer and employed, were bound by law to 
perpetual service — ^perhaps servitude is a better word — there ; 
and in the event of the sale or alienation of the ground on 
which the works were situated, the right to their service passed, 
without the need of any express grant, to the purchaser. The 
sons of the collier or Salter could follow no occupation but that 
of their father, and were not at liberty to seek for employment 
anjrwhere else than in the mines to which they were attached 
by birth.* This only meant that the sons of colliers and salters 
were bom in and into slavery. The Scots Parliament had 
passed a good deal of healthy legislation ; but it allowed this 
state of things to last from the early part of the seventeenth 
century, and even countenanced it by excluding the coUiers 
and salters from the provision of the Habeas Corpus Act. Many 
Scottish writers have since denounced this bondage ; but it 
was not till the closing years of the eighteenth century that the 
iniquity was abolished by an Act of ParUament under George III. 
The power of life and death which landlords held over their 
tenants, and the actual legalised slavery imposed upon miners, 
were undoubtedly the worst features of the conditions that 
prevailed up till the end of the eighteenth century. There were 
no centres of industry such as we have to-day. The factory 
was a thing unknown, and what could be called a centre of 
industry in those days was a place like, say, Kilbarchan of 
to-day, where the dick of the shuttle in the hand-loom is heard 
in almost every row of houses. Agriculture claimed the labour 
of most people, although home industries were carried on. Every 
cottage had its spinning wheel and every Uttle township had its 
looms ; while, of course, some centres were specially devoted 
to these industries. The agricultural system in vogue was 
poor. Very Uttle effort was made to develop the industry on 
scientific lines. According to one authority, the methods of 
farming in vogue in Scotland at the end of the seventeenth 
century were exactly what they were at the time of Bannockbum. 
* Chambers's Encyclopaedia ; cf . " Slavery." 


Poor as were English agricultural methods and results, they were 
better than those of Scotland. The first real improvements were 
brought back from the Netherlands by soldiers who had fought 
there, and it was not tiH the eighteenth century that real advances 
were made in farming. Then intensive culture began to be 
practised, proper ideas of draining were resorted to, the rotation 
of crops was begun, and fields were enclosed. Various societies 
were instituted to improve agriculture, and it is interesting to 
learn from a historical sketch which appeared in the Co-operative 
News when St Cuthbert's Co-operative Association made its first 
venture in agriculture by the purchase of CUftonhall Estate, 
that an earlier proprietor of the estate had placed part of the 
land there at the disposal of one of these societies for the carrying 
out of certain experiments, with a view to demonstrating the 
value of new schemes. One of these societies, the Scottish 
Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture, made 
practical experiments, in 1723, which gave the Scottish farmer 
a new idea of the importance of enclosure, draining, hmeing, 
and furrowing, and which demonstrated also what could be done 
with clover and grasses. In 1737 Andrew Rodger, a Roxburgh- 
shire farmer, used the first machine for winnowing grain. It 
shocked everybody in the district, and was regarded as an 
unholy means of destro5dng the prerogative of Him who 
" formeth the mountains and createth the wind." The fanner 
came to stay, however ; various improvements were made in 
the plough, and the threshing machine was invented. Towards 
the end of the century scientific methods were also applied to 
the improvement of hve stock, a work to which Lord Kames gave 
a decided impetus. All these improvements increased suppHes 
of food and clothing, and improved the prices at which farmers 
were able to sell. One result of this was that the landowners 
displayed a greater interest in farming, larger tracts of land were 
farmed for their special benefit, agricultural shows and dinners 
were held, and the excitement of competition increased the 
enthusiasm of these " large farmers " who took part in such 
assemblies. Another result, however, was that many who 
formerly did farming for themselves sunk to the level of farm 
labourers, who were forced to work at all hours, and were, 
at the same time, deprived of the satisfaction they formerly 
had of knowing that they were working for themselves. 


Undoubtedly, agriculture improved ; but, as happens so often 
when improvements are effected, the full consequences of the 
improvements were not foreseen or provided for. The popula- 
tion on the land dwindled, and, at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, the position of the rural labourer was simply abject. 
" He was in a state of poverty and dependence upon his master 
which existed in no other walk of life."* The lot of the agri- 
cultural labourer during the past century was stiU deplorable ; 
what it is to-day is shown by the fact that the Government has 
fixed his wages at 30/ per week (equal to 13/6 according to pre- 
war value of money). This standard has been arrived at after 
years of progressive propaganda for the raising of the " bottom 
dog," and the figure shows how httle value a nation attaches to 
the work of those whose Uves are spent in producing the nation's 
food. The standard, however, represents a new world for the 
agricultural labourer ; but when that is so, we can readily under- 
stand why, at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the 
nineteenth centuries, there was such an exodus from the country 
to the town. The rural labourer was so full of despair that he 
readily deserted the hiUside and the glens, the cottage, and the 
bum-side, the clear air and the country road, for the murky 
atmosphere of the town, the dingy street, the confined hovel, 
and the other deplorable changes that his trek involved. Agri- 
culture, to which men devoted themselves, even if primitively 
and unskilfully, for their own needs and the needs of the house- 
hold, had passed into fewer hands ; in short, it had become not 
an occupation but a trade. Even in 1770 Goldsmith wrote 
deploringly : 

" But times are altered ; trade's unfeeling train 
Usurp the land, and dispossess the swain. 

* * fi * * * * 

Around the world each needful pioduct flies. 
For all the luxuries the world supplies." 

The swains felt that any change would be an improvement 

yet, for the most part, the bitterness came upon them when they 

realised the horrors of the city, where 

" . . . the single sordid attic 
Holds the living and the dead." 

Nor did bitterness come only upon those whose work had lain 

in the fields. 

* Chambers's Encyclopaedia. 


There had been many inventions in the eighteenth century. 
Methods of improving the processes of treating iron ore had been 
introduced. The development of the steam engine, and its 
appUcation to almost every industry, had heralded a revolution 
which soon came. The methods of coal-mining improved, and 
the use of steam demanded greater supplies of coal and iron. 
The Peace of Paris, at the close of the Seven Years' War, left Great 
Britain, already an exporter, mistress of a great overseas trade 
with powers of monopoly. James Hargreaves invented his 
spinning jenny in 1766, and Sir Richard Arkwright invented 
the spinning frame in 1768. Both became the object of great 
rage by workers who saw their occupation gone, for Hargreaves 
had his home broken into and his machine destroyed, and 
Arkwright had to remove to Nottingham to escape popular 
resentment because of his invention. The stimulus given to 
trade by the Peace of Paris had created a craving for profits, 
and nobody displayed greater greed in that direction than 
Arkwright himself. When he had almost perfected his machine 
he found that the yam, as it was dehvered through the roUers, 
had a fatal trick of curhng back. Mr Thorold Rogers* tells how, 
puzzling over this obstacle, he took into his confidence the local 
blacksmith who made his machines, and that worthy, after 
examination, said he could remedy what was wrong. Arkwright 
asked his terms. Ten years' partnership and equal profits was 
the reply. Arkwright went off in a rage ; but the yam stUl 
curled. At last he 3delded, but the blacksmith insisted that a 
proper deed should be executed and enrolled. Arkwright 
swore, but he had to submit. When the deed was signed the 
blacksmith went behind the roUers and, apparently, rabbed 
one of them with his hand. The yam was delivered as was 
wished, and Arkwright found that his new partner had only 
rubbed a roller with some chalk to give it a different surface 
from the other. He swore once more, but the partnership stood ; 
and the blacksmith, who had as keen an eye to profit as Arkwright 
himself, became Lord Belper. After a visit to one of Arkwright's 
miUs, the Rev- Edmund Cartwright began to study machinery, 
and he invented the power-loom in 1785. He met with the same 
popular rage as Hargreaves and Arkwright ; he set up a factory, 
from which he had to retire because of pubUc resentment against 
* " Industrial and Commercial History." 


his power-looms ; and 9. mill set up at Manchester later, with 
four hundred of his looms, was burned down. 

The factory system, however, had been inaugurated. The 
great fiUip given to British trade after the Seven Years' War was 
as nothing to that which came from the French Revolution. 
In one respect history seems to be repeating itself. Advanced 
thought welcomed that great popular upheaval, but its course 
was contrary to expectations. The Russian Revolution, bom 
■of the European War of 1914 and onward, and which overthrew 
Czarism, was welcomed by the friends of hberty everywhere ; 
but that revolution has also taken a course which many who 
■welcomed it did not anticipate and do not bless. Democracy 
in our own day has also hoped for revolution which could over- 
throw Kaiserism ; the first shots in that revolution have been 
fired, and its influence has passed over every German State ; but 
the storm is not yet over, and none can tell how far the fires 
lighted in Petrograd may extend or what outposts of Europe 
they may yet consume. The French Revolution was simply an 
expression of the popular declaration that a sovereign people 
■" derives the civil and temporal authority of its laws not from 
its actual rulers, nor even from its magistracy, but from itself ." * 
That was the voice of democracy which set up the first French 
Repubhc ; nevertheless, before long, Prussia, Austria, and 
other German States, with Britain, Holland, Spain, and Naples, 
were in armed league against the Revolution. AU Western 
Europe was involved in war which did not cease tiU Napoleon 
Buonaparte, one of the great discoveries of the Revolution, was 
crushed at Waterloo. Britain suffered less than other countries, 
whose trade was destroyed, and she was left to undertake the 
greater part of the trade of Western Europe. 

All this had a tremendous influence on the Uves of the people. 
These great opportunities of trade opened up to British manu- 
facturers, thus giving an impetus to the production of British 
goods. Those engaging in trade were, as is their rule, eager to 
derive as much profit as possible from their undertakings ; and 
those profits stood to be augmented in proportion to the use made 
of time and labour-saving devices, the cheapening of labour, and 
the increasing of prices. The people's interpretation of these 
processes was the terse formula, " low wages and high cost of 

* Hilaire Belloc's " The French Revolution." 


living." There were grave aggravations of these effects in the 
wars which had raged, and in which Britain had been involved. 
The war of the Austrian Succession cost us a considerable sum 
during the seven years of its duration — from 1741 to 1748. 
In 1754 we were at war with France over American colonial 
differences. The Seven Years' War, which at the beginning found 
Britain and Prussia arrayed against France and Austria, involved 
other nations, cost Europe a miUion hves, and increased our 
National Debt to 132 millions before it came to an end in 1763. 
The War of American Independence which, hke many other wars, 
is now regarded as having its origin in blundering administra- 
tion, lost us our Colonies, and added 100 miUions more to our 
Debt. War with France in 1778, war with Spain in 1779, war 
with Holland in 1780, and later struggles at the opening of the 
nineteenth century in the Peninsula and in France, added nearly 
700 miUions of expenditure ; and, in short, the wars of ninety 
years before 1812 — ^the year of Napoleon's disastrous adventure 
in Moscow — ^increased the National Debt from fifty miUions to 
about 880 miUions.* We scarcely gather wisdom from the 
centuries, for, while the century from 1720 shows this increase 
of 830 miUions, the century from 1820 shows the appalling 
increase of over 6,000 millions — and the century is not yet quite 
completed. Living in an era of false values, of eternal borrowing, 
of inflated currency, of subsidised food, and of controUed prices 
for essential goods, we cannot adequately penetrate the gloom 
that lies ahead of us ; and, indeed, some are so deluded as to 
think that the abnormal and artificial conditions of the war 
period wiU endure, and that there wiU be no period of gloom to 
face. We have no doubt, however, as to the reality of the 
burden which feU upon those who Hved at the end of the 
eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth. The 
national income was only a fraction then of the national income 
of to-day. The people then had not the safety-valve of 
ParUament that the people of to-day have. The workers of the 
country have now the power of coUectivist action at their dis- 
posal. They are banded together in trade unions to maintain 
wages, to reduce hours ; they are banded together in their 
co-operative associations to secure to themselves the fuUest 
return for the wages they earn ; and, broadly speaking, people 

* Sanderson's " History of the British Empire." 


may combine in any political association they choose to join, 
and may exercise their Parliamentary vote on a pretty broad 
basis, and so, to some extent, affect the composition of ParUa- 
ment. A hundred years ago the common people who combined 
for political purposes were under the ban of the law, and 
" agitators," or propagandists as we should call them nowadays, 
were liable to banishment if their views were not whoUy agree- 
able to the law-makers. Combination Laws, to the number of 
about thirty-five,* existed at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century. " There is one pecuharity to be noted," says Mr 
Howell, " in the series of enactments under review, namely, 
their increasing severity and comprehensiveness. . . . There 
were cases, indeed, where juries refused to convict because, on 
conviction, the penalties far exceeded what, in their opinion, 
the justice of the case demanded. This, however, was seldom 
the case in respect of offences under the Combination Laws."] 
The fact seems clear that, as the years went on, and tiU the early 
part of the nineteenth century, the tendency was for legislation 
against the workers to become more harsh because the growing 
severity of the struggle for existence made the workers bolder 
in their efforts with a boldness begotten of despair. The Times 
of yth January 1800 stated that : " One of the first Acts of the 
ImperiaJ Parliament will be for the prevention of conspiracies 
among journeymen tradesmen to raise their wages. All benefit 
clubs and societies are to be immediately suppressed." One Act 
of 1819 (60, George III.) provided that : "No meeting of any 
description of persons exceeding fifty shall be held for the 
purpose of deliberating on any pubUc grievance or on any 
matter of trade, manufacture, business, or profession ; or on 
any matter of Church and State ; or of considering or agreeing to 
any petition, complaint, declaration, resolution, or address on 
the subject thereof except, and unless, notice thereof be deUvered 
personally to a justice, signed by seven householders." No 
person was allowed to attend any such meeting, or return from 
any such meeting, with any flag, banner, ensign, badge, or 
emblem, or with music, or in military array or order, on pain of 
fine or imprisonment. No such meeting could consist of more 
than fifty persons, or any other person beyond the fifty would 
be Uable to fine or twelve months' imprisoimient. The justices 

* Howell's " Labour Legislation." t ^^^i- 


could disperse meetings, and persons who did not disperse within 
fifteen minutes of such a meeting being proclaimed, would be 
guilty of felony and liable to seven years' transportation. 

Political or trade union activities were apparently to be made 
impossible. Parliament was unrepresentative of the mass. 
Freeholders only could vote for members of Parhament for 
counties, and members of the Corporations of Boroughs had also 
the nominal title to elect " borough " members, although this 
privilege was held by some local magnates, who ' " owned the 
' borough,' " to be their prerogative. Under these conditions, 
and recollecting the serious financial plight of the nation with 
its heavy war debt, we may imagine what happened. Every- 
body saw hardships ahead. Heavy taxation had to be met. 
The wealthy did not wish to rehnquish any of their wealth, even 
for taxation to defray the cost of wars which had given the 
manufacturers large trade monopoUes. Two things had tO' 
happen. In the first place there was a clamour for " increased 
output in order to create wealth." Those who are urging the 
apphcation of the same remedy to-day are therefore not rising 
to any great height of originaJity. In the second place, the 
taxation had to be such as would fall upon the working-classes. 
So that the Government Controllers whose prerogative it has 
been to fix prices, and who have fixed them so high as to swell 
the Excess Profits Duty which constitutes a heavy indirect 
taxation upon the consumer, have not shown any •great originality 
in principle or purpose, even if their method differs sUghtly from 
that of the rulers who represented, and were influenced by, the 
wealthy classes of a century ago. 

The two things suggested actually happened, and brought 
about a state of affairs that was appalling. Things went from 
bad to worse during the latter half of the eighteenth century, 
s6 far as the " common people " were concerned. Not from the 
early years of the seventeenth century (1630-40) were the 
conditions of Ufe so bad as they were from 1790 tiU 1825 — and 
a few years more might be added to the period. This is a period 
of which Thorold Rogers writes as " the most disastrous period 
through which the population passed."* 

Taxation ground the people down. An article in the 
Edinburgh Review in 1820 satirised the whole situation, and 
• " Industrial and Commercial History." 


described the taxation resulting from the war as " the inevitable 
consequences of being too fond of glory." The description is as 
follows : — 

" Taxes upon, every article which enters into the mouth, or covers 
the ba<;k, or is placed under foot ; taxes upon everything which it 
is pleasant to see, hear, feel, smell, or taste ; taxes upon warmth 
light, and locomotion ; taxes upon everything on earth, and the 
waters under the earth ; on everything that comes from abroad, or 
is grown at home ; taxes on the raw material — ^taxes on every fresh 
value that is added to it by the industry of man ; taxes on the sauce 
which pampers man's appetite, and the drug that restores him to 
health ; on the ermine which decorates the judge, and the rope which 
hangs the criminal ; on the poor man's salt and the rich man's spice; 
on the brass nails of the cof&n, and the ribands of the bride — at bed 
or board, couchant or levant, we must pay. The schoolboy whips 
his taxed top ; the beardless youth manages his taxed horse, with 
a taxed bridle, on a taxed road ; and the dying Englishman, pouring 
his medicine, which has paid 7 per cent., into a spoon that has paid 
15 per cent., flings himself back upon his chintz bed, which has paid 
22 per cent., and expires in the arms of an apothecary who has paid 
a licence of a hundred pounds for the privilege of putting him to 
death. His whole property is then immediately taxed from 2 to 
10 per cent. Besides the probate, large fees are demanded for 
burying him in the chancel ; his virtues are handed down to- 
posterity on taxed marble, and he is then gathered to his fathers — 
to be taxed no more." 

Very probably we ourselves would have been amused at 
reading this a few years ago, but it is scarcely exaggerated ; and, 
faced as we are with a terrible load of debt, we cannot read the 
same passage now with the same appreciation of its humour, 
nor could the working men and women of the period referred to 
read it with the feeUngs of intense amusement that coidd come 
to the " superior " readers of the Edinburgh Review. Sugar was 
taxed at the rate of 30/ per cwt. ; salt was taxed sjd. per lb. 
As another writer has put it : " Every necessary and every con- 
venience of life was taxed. Raw materials, staple manufactures, 
the earnings of the living and the savings of the dead were 
visited by the tax-gatherer." Now, in a scheme for the raising 
of revenue by indirect taxation, the wage-earners always suffer. 
It is beyond doubt that the present war has brought about the 
practice, among all kinds of business firms, of calculating the 
possible amount of liability for Excess Profits Duty before 
fixing the selling price of goods or the fees for service. Similarly, 
before the war began, the amount of Income Tax was reckoned 
when the selling price of an article was fixed, so that, instead of 


these business people selling in the ordinary way, and paying 
the duty incurred for excess profits made, or paying the tax on 
income, they aim at securing a profit which enables them to 
pay these taxes and still have a larger profit than ever. That 
is not true of every business firm, for some businesses have 
suffered a reduction of profits, but it is the fairly general rule 
to-day. It is, moreover, dictated by a long estabhshed and 
vicious principle that taxes are to be " passed on," a principle 
which relieves the very people whom a particular tax is designed 
to reach. When the list of dutiable goods was so comprehensive as 
at the beginning of the nineteenth century (the list comprised 
some 1,200 articles), the working people were bound to suffer 
most, because every necessary of Ufe was included in the hst ; 
and, indeed, it is accepted that the wage-earners of that time 
suffered most severely. 

Wages were low and hours were long. The competitive 
struggle for profits compelled employers to get the last ounce 
of energy out of their workers at the lowest possible wage. 
Machinery was new, and the owners of patents would not forgo 
their fees, which made the machinery pretty costly. But the 
manufacturers were compelled to use the latest machinery to 
keep up the output, and, involved in that expenditure, they were 
forced to economise in other directions. The easiest course for 
them, when combination was illegal, was to drop wages or to 
keep wages low in new works. The factories were set up where 
suppUes of labour were greatest, and, therefore, cheapest. 
Child labour was exploited shamelessly. The children were 
brought from poorhouses to supply the needs of the factories, 
and were worked UteraUy to death or deformity or invalidity. 
Even employers who had reputations for sincere benevolence 
thought it consistent with their Christianity to keep young 
children working day after day for twelve hours. 

Such conditions foster the germs of the old social trouble 
known to-day imder the new name of " Labour Unrest." The 
Clyde weavers of the end of the eighteenth century were as 
stiurdy defenders of their rights as the Clyde engineers of the 
twentieth century are of theirs. The manufacturers, to whom 
the weavers sold their productions, introduced a new scale of 
pajTments in 1787, so that those who think the idea of collective 
bargaining is new are under some Uttle misconception of the 



Entered the Service as a Clerk in April 1870 


past. The new scale meant a serious reduction to the weavers, 
and, despite the fact that they were probably the best paid 
artisans in the comitry,* the prospect of a reduction so incensed 
them that they struck work. It was not simply a case of 
" downing tools." They made hostile demonstrations against 
those manufacturers who were believed to be chiefly responsible 
for the reduction ; but they also raided the workshops of such 
weavers as were content to take the reduction calmly. Webs 
were cut from the looms. The webs were deposited in heaps 
in the streets and burned. It was a wild proceeding ; but it was 
indicative of the desperation of the men. MiUtary forces were 
called to the suppression of the disorder ; the Riot Act was read, 
but the strikers refused to disperse, and they began an attack 
upon the soldiers with stones and bottles. The order to fire was 
given to the soldiers, and three of the strikers were killed and 
others were injured ;t and, at the burial of the victims a few 
days later, there was a renewal of the outburst attended by 
further fatahties. It was an early ebullition of zeal on the part 
of desperate men, who were probably the pioneers of coUectivist 
action among the working-classes in Glasgow. The position of 
the weavers improved sUghtly for some little time afterwards ; 
but after a while the position of the men grew worse and worse, 
and work which could bring the weaver thirty-two shiUings and 
sixpence in 1806, brought him no more than ten shillings when 
the Napoleonic war bill began to be paid. By 1830 the weaver 
was more badly off still, and his wages had dwindled down to 
between eight and nine shiUings. We get a gUmpse of the 
weaving factory as it then was in an interesting Uttle publication 
to which reference is made in the next chapter. One contributor 
, to this, describing the place and its conditions, wrote : | 
" Through the caprice of the manager and dampness of the place, 
it is very unwholesome ; and, to crown aU, such heavy fines 
are imposed upon us for no offence that the situation which some 
time ago was tolerable, is now rendered miserable." Again, § 
the same writer (himself a " wabster ") observed : " The 
managers of these factories may be compared to whips in the 
hands of the proprietors, calculated only for the purpose of 

* British Association 1901 meeting : " Handbook of Industries." 

t Cleland's " Annals." 

X Herald to the Trades' Advocate, 6th November 1830. 

^Ibid. 18th December 1830. 



lashing the poor, dandy weaver to his labour." The factory so 
described was in Glasgow. A Lanark weaver, by dint of hard 
labour, could earn seven shUUngs per week on an average. Of 
that income two shiUings had to be deducted for rent of his 
house and loom, a shilling more had to go for fuel and light, and 
four shillings remained for food for the weaver, his wife, and his 
family of juveniles.* 

A shoemaker's reward for making a pair of shoes was nominally 
three shillings, but there were deductions for " material," which 
left him with but two. Cloth lappers worked under conditions 
that were slavish. Their wages varied between fourteen and 
eighteen shiUings per week for good workmen, but their usual 
hours were from 6 a.m. till 8 p.m., and, at the time of which we 
write, there was trouble in Glasgow because at one factory the 
men had had to work eighteen hours per day for five days, for 
which " week " they received five days' pay. One witness 
testifies to having seen the whip in regular use in one estabhsh- 
ment in Glasgow, " lashing boys and young men." Coal-hewers 
in the Johnstone district worked from fourteen to sixteen hours 
per day for wages varying from nine to ten shillings per week. 
In one factory the employees were compelled to work half an hour 
extra each day in order to pay for the gas light used in the 
premises. Hammermen, whose work was certainly laborious, 
were paid fourteen shillings per week in some districts, although 
the wage for these men in Glasgow was a guinea. 

The cotton mills were notorious for the bad conditions of 
labour in England, and they were no better in Scotland. The 
first cotton mill in Scotland was erected at Penicuik in 1778 ; 
the following year a second was estabUshed at Rothesay, and 
mills at Barrhead, Johnstone, Catrine, Doune, and Lanark were 
among the earhest to follow. Among other classes of workers 
wages were also deplorable. A labourer's wage was about seven 
shiUings per week. A miUwright averaged about ten, masons 
got about eleven, copper-plate printers commanded between 
seventeen and twenty shiUings, block-printers were paid from 
four to six shiUings per week. Food prices were constantly 
rising. Between the middle of the eighteenth century and the 
period to which we have recently been referring (circa 1830), the 
prices of many essential articles were trebled and — as we have 
* Herald to the Trades' Advocate, 25th December 1830, 


seen in some cases — ^wages fell. The prices charged and the 

profits earned were described in an interesting fashion in the 

Herald to the Trades' Advocate, by " An Auld Weaver."* 

" The cloth merchant will sell us a hat, and only charge for handing 
it over the counter about three times as much as one of our number 
■will get for making three. ... If we go to purchase a stuff gown 
once in the year for our wife and daughter, the shopkeeper — for 
measuring eight or nine yards of it, which ought not to occupy five 
minutes — will take as much for his trouble as we will get for toiling 
hard for thirty hours. . . . The staff of life is enhanced by the 
iniquitous Corn Bill, but it is doubly so by the profits of the master 
baker, the master grain merchant, the roguish miller, etc. The best 
flour, notwithstanding this obnoxious law and the extravagance of 
the aristocracy, could be produced for 36/ per bag under proper 
arrangements, and baked for 5/, which could give us a fine quartern 
loaf at 6d. In many parts, where it is baked into smallbread, it costs 
us about I3d. per quartern loaf. How inconsistent, quietly to submit 
to a few individuals who tax us on this first necessary of life to the 
amount of 100 per cent, and upwards, and yet make such a cry out 
against the Government, who do not tax it above 5 per cent. ! . . 
If we want a bone to make a drop of broth on Sunday, the distributors 
have the cheek to ask 2^d. . . . Tobacco yields a profit of 30 per 
cent, and upwards, joining the profits of the master and distributor. 
This is effected by adulterating the tobacco with copperas and water, 
in order to make it a good black, but in reality to make it heavier." 

The " auld weaver's " logic has carried the world of labour 
into many wise movements, and this particular " auld weaver " 
drew no exaggerated picture. Employer ^ and shopkeeper 
attempted to squeeze all they could out of the victim of the 
enterprise. The employers were not content with their fair 
share of the loot, and many sought to grab the shopkeeper's 
share also by introducing the Truck Shop as part of the works 
estabUshment, and compelling the workers to purchase there 
whatever necessaries they could afford. The workers had no 
redress, because, if they complained, they had to leave ; and it 
appeared to be better to stay and be fleeced, than to go and 
starve ; but many both stayed and starved. The shopkeepers, 
on the other hand, were no better than the employers, for dis- 
honesty was rife, and many of the people were tied by debt to 
shopkeepers whom they knew to be dishonest ; and, as we have 
already seen, the workers were deprived by law of the power of 
combination, which was in later years to become so effective 
an instrument for the redressing of wrongs which, it will be 
admitted, called out in anguish for redress. 
* 4th December 1830. 











Placed as the people were during those years, they had every 
incentive to " explore every avenue " leading towards emancipa- 
tion. The poUtical way out did not seem to appeal to very 
many at first, because the reins of electoral power had been so 
tightly held by those in authority that the prospect of working- 
men voting for members of Parhament seemed hke "a funny 
dream " to the generality of workers, just as " votes for women " 
did to some of our leading statesmen before the war-drum caUed 
the women to the factories and the field. In 1793 there were 
twenty Parliamentary members returned by Scottish counties 
with no more than 100 voters, ten were returned by counties 
with no more than 250 voters, and fifteen members were returned 
for fifteen burghs with no more than 125 voters. The number 
of county voters in aU Scotland was 2,624, and the largest county 
was Ayrshire with a voting strength of 220; while the total number 
of burgh electors was 1,289. In Edinburgh, which had a 
population of over 100,000, thirty-three persons had the election 
of a member of Parhament.* Men knew this kind of thing was 
not right, but the Combination Laws described in the foregoing 
chapter made it a penal offence to say so in a crowd. This 
part of the world then — even, perhaps, as now — ^was not " safe 
for democracy." For twenty-five years before 1795 there had 
* " St Mungo's Bells," by A. G. Gallant. 


not been a meeting in Edinburgh at which politics fonned the 
theme of the discourse. Thomas Muir kindled the torch of the 
Reform movement in 1792, but his guerdon was a fourteen 
years' banishment sentence,* and the first fruits of his agitation 
did not come to Scotland till the Reform Act of 1833, which 
many regarded as the acme of enfranchisement for the workers. 
Economic emancipation by direct Parliamentary action was, 
therefore, beyond the hopes of unenfranchised workers. The 
Combination Laws were repealed in 1825, but the right of public 
assembly was not asserted till the passing of the Reform Act ; 
and, for many years after, many of the purposes served by the 
Combination Laws could be effected by wilful misinterpretation 
of judicial prerogatives. 

Under these circumstances, at any rate till 1825, the workers 
could not hope for economic emancipation by means of trade 
unionism any more than by poUtical action. To have estabhshed 
a Co-operative society with modem Co-operative ideals, or with 
such a modified programme as the British Co-operative Congress 
had adhered to prior to the Swansea gathering of 1917, would 
have been illegal, and might have been accounted seditious. 
Besides that, the ideal had not dawned upon the people till the 
nineteenth century was well begun. The workers and their 
families were faced with a very simple but extremely serious 
problem — viz., How to procure the bare essentials of Ufe when 
the said bare essentials are only procurable at a sum greater 
than the wages available. The non-essentials had been dropped 
out of the working-class menu and wardrobe ; and the modest 
furnishings of the home showed the same vigorous economy — for 
the same room served the purposes of kitchen and boudoir, 
drawing-room and bedroom, dining-room and wash-house, 
birth chamber and mortuary. The whole trouble was to procure 
the barest essentials. The working-people could not work more 
than was humanly possible ; they could not compel the employers 
to pay better wages, and, as we have seen, the employers were 
gradually paying lower wages ; they could not compel the 
retailers to sell at lower prices, and, as we have also seen, the 
prices were rising. The workers gradually observed that the 
retailer's stocks had to be purchased, and that the retailer must 

* This sentence was pronounced by the notorious Lord Braxfield, 
part of whose estate David Dale purchased for his New Lanark experiment. 


purchase them at a price below that at which he sold. It seems 
a simple process of reasoning to us when trade unionism has 
reduced the length of the working day, and the Education Acts 
have prescribed that all must be educated. The inspiration 
came more slowly to men working excessive hours, and whose 
non-working hours were filled with care and worry, and financial 
Worry at that. The simple process devised was to make an 
effort to secure goods at the same prices as the retailers paid for 
their stocks. We cannot tell how early the workers began to 
resort to this method, but the Fenwick Weavers' Society, to 
which reference is made in the " Foreword," left authentic 
documentary evidence to prove that they had put the method 
into practice successfully for about thirty years. The society 
is described in "Matthew Fowlds and Fenwick Worthies";* 
and Mr Maxwell, in his " History of Co-operation in Scotland," 
has published the minutes of the meeting of the Fenwick 
Weavers at which it was resolved to set up their co-operative 
system of buying and seUing, and he has also given a tabular 
statement of the money invested, and the profit and loss resulting, 
each year from 1770 to 1800. The Weavers' Society existed, 
notwithstanding the Combination Laws, because it was simply 
a benevolent society, free from the taint of pohtical intent. The 
Weavers' Comer, stiU to be seen at Fenwick, although now 
adorned with one of His Majesty's letter-boxes, was to the 
weavers of the village what the Craufurdland Bridge was to the 
thinkers of Kilmarnock nearly a century later. There they used 
to assemble and chat about everything that troubled them. 

Where these men held their formal business meetings as a 
society the writer has been unable to trace, despite a searching 
visit paid to the place under the guardianship of Mr James 
Deans, the secretary of the Scottish Section of the Co-operative 
Union, who has a wonderful faculty for unearthing the oldest 
inhabitant of almost any Ayrshire village, and, we may add, 
who is himself weU known in every Ayrshire village. On 9th 
November 1769 the members of the Weavers' Society decided 
to take what money they had in their box and buy victuals to 
sell to the society. The victuals consisted chiefly of oatmeal, 
which the society bought at the wholesale price and distributed 
to the members who wanted it. The rule was that, after paying 
* See Appendix I. 


(1) David Dale's House, Glasgow. 

(2) David Dale. 

(3) Robert Owen. 

(4) Mills and Village of New Lanark. 

































interest on the capital, and after paying the men for buying and 
selling the victuals, the society would " reap the benefit or 
sustain the loss." It would be of the greatest interest to learn 
more of the methods of the society. What did it do with the 
profits ? Did these " trading profits " go to the benevolent 
objects of the Weavers' Society ? It is true the profits were not 
great. The highest profit recorded for a single year is £4, is., 
and in one year there was a loss of £y, 5s. gd. ; so that it would 
appear that profit -making was not aimed at. If the society 
meant to use possible profits for the common good of the 
members by supplementing benevolent funds from trade, even 
to the limited extent the records of profit show, then we had 
Owen's effort anticipated at Fenwick two years before Owen 
was born. If the profit was only the incidental result of trying 
to seU at the lowest price compatible with averting a loss, we still 
have a system which compares with Sir Leo Chiozza Money's 
description of co-operation as " working-men clubbing together to 
do things for themselves." In either case, the Fenwick venture 
put into practice a principle which present-day co-operators are 
derided and impugned for advocating— viz., the principle of 
" eUminating the middleman." They did it in a purely local 
fashion and to a very hmited extent ; but the sphere and the 
extent do not detract from the principle. No doubt similar 
ventures were attempted and carried out elsewhere, but no 
documentary evidence has been unearthed to prove the existence 
of an earUer venture of the kind ; and so the Fenwick Society 
must take pride of place as having established itself twenty-five 
years before the MongeweU Co-operative Store, which George 
Jacob Holyoake — ^who died before the Fenwick records were 
found — ^regarded as the first known Co-operative venture. 

Eight years later than the Fenwick Society, or in 1777, the 
Govan Victualling Society was estabhshed. It struggled on 
through one hundred and thirty-two years, but there seems to 
be less known regarding its origin than is known of Fenwick. 
The merging of Govan in the City of Glasgow will no doubt stir 
up feelings of local patriotism if it be true, as a learned divine 
said at a Co-operative Congress, that " true imperiaUsm begins 
at the parish piunp," and that local patriotism may inculcate 
in Govan natives a fondness for old Govan traditions and 
institutions, which will lead to the discovery of some of the old 


records of the Victualling Society. In that case we may learn 
more of the methods and objects of its founders than we know 
at present. The demise of the society in 1909 transferred from 
Govan to Bridgeton the distinction of having the oldest 
Co-operative society in the world. The Bridgeton Victualling 
Society — now the Bridgeton Old Victualling Society — came into 
existence in 1800, but of its early methods we know as httle as 
we do of the Govan Society. For some years it stood alone as 
the only Glasgow Co-operative Society trading in intoxicants. 
That trade had always been a barrier in the way of an amalgama- 
tion of societies in the East End of Glasgow. That is perhaps an 
irrelevant observation to make here ; but the only purpose the 
writer has in making it is to suggest that if, in the near future, 
the societies in the east of Glasgow do unite to form one, the 
name of the Bridgeton Old VictuaUing should be preserved 
somehow on accoimt of the antiquity of the society. 

While the absence of records makes a study of these early 
Co-operative ventures almost impossible, it is fortunate that the 
Lennoxtown Friendly VictuaUing Society affords an opportunity 
for judging more clearly the purpose of its founders. The 
society was estabhshed in 1812, and its minute-books since 
1826 are in excellent preservation. The writer has pored over 
those old minutes with interest, and their impUcations have 
been set forth in the society's Centenary History. The society 
is now part and parcel of the Co-operative " federation of the 
world," being linked up with other societies in the Co-operative 
Union, the Wholesale Society, and the International Co-operative 
AUiance ; it espouses all the ideals of Co-operation as they are 
propagated to-day ; but in 1812 it had no ideals. Its members 
had other things to think of besides ideals. They shared with 
their compeers the struggle for existence, and the struggle in 
the Parish of Campsie was peculiarly bitter. The members 
wanted food, and they " clubbed together " to get it at a price 
within their reach. While later societies adopted the principle 
of dividing their profits on the capital of the members, thus 
" helping the capitaUst " as we would say to-day, the Lennox- 
town people saw that there was something wrong there, and, 
under certain conditions, the rules declared the profits should 
be divided in proportion to purchases. What the actual 
practice was, or how it worked out, is a little obscure, because 


of the wording of the minute ; but the fact stands out that the 
principle of dividing profits upon purchases was recognised, 
although the rules provided an alternative method. In Lennox- 
town there was difficulty in keeping the society going, because 
the Truck system operated at the bleachfields ; workers had 
to purchase goods at the works' store, and so they could only 
purchase very little from the co-operative store. The result 
was that the membership was very Hmited, and, after fourteen 
years' trading, its roll only included about sixty-five names. 

Prior to Waterloo there were in existence numerous 
Co-operative baking societies, which did their business on the 
non-dividend system and rendered admirable service. We 
cannot trace their names, and it seems that they were estabUshed 
by people a Uttle above the financial level of the ordinary 
worker ; but their method was apparently similar to that of the 
Fenwick Society. The records of the magistracy of Glasgow 
give authentic evidence of their existence, while their system 
is outHned in Cleland's " Annals," to which we have already 
referred. In 1758 an Act had been passed for regulating in 
England " the Assize and Price of Bread." That Act did not 
apply to Scotland, but its provisions were extended to the 
Northern Kingdom by an Act of 1784. The Act authorised the 
Magistrates and Justices of the Peace to regulate " the price 
and assize of bread, and to punish persons who shall adulterate 
meal, flour, and bread." The last assize was fixed in December 
1809, when it was ordained, infer alia, that the quartern loaf 
should weigh 4 lbs. 5 oz. 8 dr., and that the half-quartern should 
weigh 2 lbs. 2 oz. 12 dr. ; the price of the quartern wheaten loaf 
was fixed at 1/8, and of the quartern " household " loaf, 1/3. 
These were prices to which bread did not rise in Scotland in the 
great war which is now being brought to a close ; and, since 
1800, prices were not fixed by law in Scotland till the ninepenny 
subsidised loaf was introduced. The magistrates assembling 
in 1801 decided not to fix a price again in Glasgow, but they 
stipulated that the weight of the loaf should remain, and they 
had power to impose penalties for reduction of the weight. 
In Edinburgh and Perth and other places nearer the wheat- 
growing districts, the price of the loaf y/as lower, even if only 
slightly, than in Glasgow, which had to pay carriage on its wheat ; 
but it is recorded that the public had to pay more for their 


quartern loaf when no assize was set. The case is a century-old 
parallel to the experience of the people during the great war, 
for it has been evident that till the Government, somewhat 
tardily, controlled prices there has been a tendency for the prices 
to go up, although, in some cases. Government control of 
supplies, without control of prices, has also been followed by a 
rise in prices. The part played by the Co-operative baking 
societies of 1800-1815 is described in Cleland's " Annals " in 
language which makes the tribute aU the more valuable because 
it came from one who was not influenced by the publicity such 
as is given to Co-operative enterprises and Co-operative aims to- 
day; and so we cannot do better than quote the reference in fuU : — 
" BaMng societies have beea established in the suburbs (of 
Glasgow) who uniformly sell their bread one penny, twopence, and 
sometimes even threepence or fourpence, on the quartern loaf, lower 
than the bakers' prices. From this statement it would seem, at first 
sight, that tb-e rate at which the bakers sell their bread is higher than 
what is exactly necessary to secure a fair profit ; this, however, is not 
the case, for the bakers are on an equal footing with the societies who 
do not seU to any person but to their own members ; they give no 
credit, and receive neither profit from the concern nor interest on 
their capital ; besides, the members, having no partner to superintend 
the concern, are particularly subjected to the risk of loss, incident 
to the breach of trust in their servants." 

We are guided in our view that these societies were conducted 
by those above the working-class level by the indication given, 
in a subsequent reference, to the fact that they baked no coarse 
bread, and no loaf less than the quartern ; but even that does 
not destroy their Co-operative character, and it only goes to 
show that even the better-off people found it desirable to economise 
where and how they could during those trying times. Never- 
theless, the fact that these societies (by which is dearly meant 
the members) " received neither profit from the concern nor 
interest on their capital " is one that some Co-operators with 
" reforming " tendencies will no doubt note with interest. In 
1821 Larkhall VictuaUing Society, which stiU flourishes, came 
into being because a number of the inhabitants (according to 
the society's articles) viewed " with serious concern the many 
disadvantages they are under in purchasing the necessaries of 
life," and the society was constituted " for the sole purpose of 
purchasing different articles and necessaries of life at the first 
markets, and retaihng them at the lowest possible terms." It 


JOHN M'lNNES (Top) and JAMES BORROWMAN, late photograph (Bottom) 


(1) Abraham Greenwood, first C.W.S. president, who gave valuable help to the 
promoters of the S. C.W.S. (2) J. C. Edwards, secretary and cashier of the C.W.S. , who 
attended two of the preliminary delegate meetings in 1865-66. (3^ Josei'H Woouie of 
London, founder of the Christian Socialist Wholesale Agency in 1850, and who bought goods 
for the two Wholesales in their early yenrs. The others represented were speakers at the 
celeljration of the opening of the first Paisley Road warehouse, September 1873. They are 
(4) G. J. HoLYOAKE as he then was; (5) James Cbabtree, second C.W.S. president; 
(6) Li.OYD Jones, an Owenite in 1832; and (7) William Nuttall, secretary of the 
Co-operative Congress. 


■was a laudable object, but, still, as in the case of many other 
societies in those early years of Co-operative experiment, there 
was nothing in the methods of the society to suggest that the 
members had anything that could be called idealism or that 
they were taking what might be called " a long view." Idealism 
was to come with the rising of a new influence, and that new 
influence was Robert Owen. 

Around the name of Owen there have raged many controversies 
with which we are not concerned here. We have only to con- 
sider briefly how his experiments affected the popular vision, 
or, to be more correct, created a popular vision and influenced 
the men who set up the Co-operative organisation as we know 
it to-day in Scotland. Owen, bom in 1771, had only a poor 
education when he went to work with a London draper, at the 
age of ten ; but the use wliich he was allowed to make of his 
employer's library was of the greatest service to him, and when 
he was nineteen he was the manager of a Manchester cotton 
miU, with 500 employees under his control. At Manchester 
" he effected a most happy change in the habits and conditions 
of the working-people in the establishment ; but so little to the 
detriment of the proprietors that they raised his salary to three, 
four, and five hundred pounds a year ; and they desired him 
to name his own terms if he would continue to superintend their 
workpeople, whose health, education, and comforts he had 
improved, while he had diminished the length of their day's 
work."* A partnership was promised, but the prospective 
son-in-law of the millowner objected, and Owen left the mill. 
He entered into partnership with two others, and in pursiiit of 
business he visited Glasgow, where he met David Dale, for whom 
Dale Street in Tradeston and Dale Street in Biidgeton, Glasgow, 
are named. Dale, in his way, was as remarkable as Owen. 
Dale was a herd-boy at Stewarton, near Kilmarnock, and he 
became a weaver at Paisley, Hamilton, and Cambuslang. He 
went to Glasgow to try his luck there. Countless thousands 
have regarded the Broomielaw as the threshold of prosperity ; 
but few fared so well as David Dale. He became a linen dealer, 
and set up a little import trade in yams. His next venture was 
as a millowner, and while engaged in that trade as Campbell, f 

♦Lord Brougham in the House of Lords, 15th March 1853. 
t Campbell was Mrs Dale's maiden name. 


Dale, & Co., he was also a manufacturer of printing cloth, under 
the name of Dale, Campbell, Raid & Dale.* He combined with 
Sir Richard Arkwright to set up a great cotton mill at New 
Lanark. The ground was secured in 1784, the foundation stone 
of the first building was laid in 1785, and in 1786 spinning was 
commenced. These mills were the largest cotton mills in 
Scotland, and were at one time the largest in Great Britain. 
The Blant5n:e nulls were also his, and he was extensively engaged 
in industrial enterprise in various parts of Scotland. His wealth 
grew, and yet Dale was a philanthropist who simply shovelled 
out his money. In what were described as " the terrible years," 
between 1782 and 1799, when meal rose to 21/4 per boU, he 
chartered ships and imported great quantities of grain to be 
sold cheaply to the poor people. To run the great cotton mills 
he actually founded the village of New Lanark on ground bought 
from the Braxfield estate. The place prospered from the pro- 
prietor's point of view, an addition to the mill was built in 1788, 
and by 1794 the whole estabhshment employed 1,300 hands. 
Much of his labour was imported. Dale acted in a benevolent 
sort of way to his workers — ^benevolent, at least, for that period. 
Robert Owen, as we have said, was deeply interested in the 
welfare of the workers under his control at Manchester. When 
his intimacy with the Dale family grew (he married Miss Dale) 
he visited the mills at New Lanark. He was impressed with 
the responsibility of employers, and particularly impressed with 
a report submitted to a Manchester committee by a friend of 
his own. Dr. Perceival. Dr. Perceival complained of the injurious 
nature of factory Ufe, and of the long hours of work to which 
the children particularly were subjected. The prevaiUng 
conditions, according to Dr. Perceival, not only tended to 
diminish future expectations as to the general sum of hfe and 
industry by impairing the strength and destroying the vital 
stamina of the rising generation, but to give encouragement to 
idleness, extravagance, and profligacy in the parents, "who, 
contrary to the order of nature, subsisted by the oppression 
of their offspring." Under the prevailing conditions, people 
were growing up physically and mentally stunted, living in 
overcrowded houses wherein human relationship and family 
order were disturbed, suffering from the effects of excessive 
* " St Mungo's BeUs." 


labour, David Dale had the best intentions, but he lived in 
Glasgow, his mills were at New Lanark, and railways did not 
exist, so that the owner of the mills was generally absent, his 
personal influence was missed, and conditions at New Lanark 
rapidly grew to be as bad as the conditions of factory life elsewhere. 
So Owen found them. He saw in this isolated community, 
surrounded by all the grandeur of nature at its loveliest, an 
opportunity of putting into practice ideas which he could only 
carry out in a limited fashion at Manchester. He discussed the 
situation with David Dale, and, eventually, he was able to form 
a company which bought the mills and installed him as manager. 
Owen entered upon the management of the miUs in 1800, on 
New Year's Day. He saw that vice was common, but he felt 
that he would be doing no lasting good by sending those away 
who were causing trouble. He took up his residence among the 
people, and assuined the role of benevolent despot, if that term 
be not too hard. He took the responsibility of foster-father to 
the whole community. His first resolve was that no more 
poorhouse children would be brought to New Lanark, where 
there were already about 400 or 500 of them being exploited 
despite David Dale's benevolence. He proceeded to influence 
.legislation in favour of the restriction of the hours of child labour, 
a reform in which he encountered opposition even from well- 
intentioned people, who deprecated, any attempt to interfere 
with freedom of contract between master and servant. The 
mills were overhauled in order that the surroundings of the 
workers might be made brighter ; machinery was improved 
so that the workers might be made safer. The tjrrannical 
methods of the overseers were suppressed, prosecutions were 
abandoned (even for theft), and the people were taught to realise 
that crime did not lie in being found out, but in its commission. 
When a scarcity of raw cotton brought many mills to a stand- 
still in 1806, the workers at New Lanark were kept on to clean 
machinery and make alterations. The stoppage of production 
lasted for four months, but nobody lost a penny of wages at New 
Lanark, and the situation was something new and original. 
It established Owen among the people, however ; and, there- 
after, his influence increased enormously. His partners grumbled 
because they did not like such methods, but the work done was 
more than ever, and the mills were more profitable than ever. 


Mr James Deans, in a memorable inaugural address at the 
Co-operative Congress of 1913, urged that the aim of Co-operative 
employers should be to make Co-operative employees feel that 
" their jobs were too good to lose." That was how the New 
Lanark mill-workers felt under Robert Owen's scheme. David 
Dale had made arrangements for educating the children 
employed at the mill when their day's work was over ; Robert 
Owen thought that was no time to attempt to educate children, 
and he set up a school where they could be taught before going 
to work at all. His proposal to spend £5,000 on this scheme 
led to further trouble for Owen, trouble which he only overcame 
by buying his partners out of the business. Several times 
similar troubles arose, but he overcame them in the same way. 
His school was one of the wonders of Europe. The children 
were taught, in addition to the elementary subjects, natural 
history and geography, singing and dancing, drill — and sewing 
for the girls. In one year 20,000 visitors, including the Czar 
Nicholas I., went to New Lanark to see the wonderful school ; 
and those who went marvelled at the deportment, conduct, and 
enlightenment of the young people of the village.* Social 
evenings were arranged for the pleasure of the 'people. To 
enable them to hve more comfortably, and at less expense, a 
store was set up. It was not a Co-operative store. It was the 
property of Robert Owen, and was managed by him. He bought 
the goods in bulk and sold them at the lowest price, thus saving 
the people 25 per cent, of what they paid formerly. Later, it 
appears, the goods were sold at a profit, and the profit was 
utilised to defray educational expenses. The work was going 
on gloriously, but Owen's new partners objected to much of it ; 
they objected to boys in kilts ; they objected to the dancing 
being taught ; they objected to Owen because he was a 
secularist ; and the continual worry, coupled with his com- 
plete failure to come to terms with them, compelled him to 
retire from the business after twenty-eight years. 

Owen had shown " that by reducing the hours of labour, by 
increasing the wages, by improving the factories, by educating 
the people, by affording the young and old leisure and oppor- 
tunity for social intercourse, by enabling them to secure their 

* This is the agreed verdict of all serious commentators ou the New 
Lanark scheme. 


goods at 25 per cent, less than they formerly paid, and by his. 
other beneficent measures, the people were made able and 
willing to give better service ; that the quality of their work 
improved ; that culture and refinement took the place of vice 
and ignorance ; and, strangest of all, that people became anxious, 
for higher planes of culture, and more eager to improve the 
common lot."* People saw the great possibihties for themselves. 
While at New Lanark Owen began to publish The Economist to 
propagate his ideas. He was rapidly surrounded by disciples- 
ready to aid him in the carrying out of his ideas. People saw 
what he had done out of the profits of trade, and they began, 
to estabUsh Co-operative societies, not simply because of the 
burden of the cost of Uving, as had been the case at Fenwick 
and Bridgeton and Lennoxtown, but to supply themselves with 
their requirements, and to utihse the proceeds of their trade for 
the same ameliorative purposes as he had carried out at New 
Lanark. The New Lanark experiment had opened up a new 
hope for the people. For miles around Glasgow, Alexander 
Campbell became the most ardent apostle of Owenism. Some 
societies were formed which did not seek his aims ; but by 1831 
there were 313 Co-operative societiesf throughout the country 
more or less pledged to his aims. Writing from the Co-operative- 
Bazaar, 42 London Street, Glasgow, to Mr Littlejohn, M.P. 
for Staffordshire, Alexander Campbell explained the aims of the- 
Co-operative societies as he knew them : — 

" These societies were generally composed of the working-classes ; 
and their capital, held in small shares, payable by instalments, is- 
to be applied to the following objects : — The purchasing at wholesale- 
prices such articles of daily consumption as the members require, 
and retailing them out to them and o-thers, at the usual retail price, 
adding all profits to the stock for the further object of giving employ- 
ment to members who may be either out of work, or otherwise- 
inefficiently employed, and thereby still increasing their capital to 
obtain their ultimate object — the possession of land, the erection 
of comfortable dwellings and asylums for the aged and infirm, and 
seminaries of learning for all — ^but more especially for the formation 
of a superior character for their youth, upon the principles of the- 
new society as propounded by Robert Owen."J 

* International Co-operative Congress Handbook, 1913, by J. A. F. 
t These societies were all in correspondence with the British Associationi 
or Promoting Co-operative Knowledge. 

■^ Herald to the Trades' Advocate, 12th February 1831. 


There are the ideals of the Co-operative societies of that 
period expressed. They were ideals that had not originated till 
Robert Owen made his experiments, and they were ideals that 
had not been propagated till the results of his experiments 
showed the working-people what they might do for themselves. 
Rev. Thomas Gordon, of Falkirk, addressing a Co-operative 
propaganda meeting in the Mechanics' Institute, Glasgow, on 
29th September 1830, declared that the objects of Co-operation 
were to secure to the working-classes all the profits of their 
industry without violating the laws of the coimtry. They were 
to sell to members of their societies, not to divide but to accumu- 
late their property, buy land, build houses, employ themselves, 
and apply the profits of the funds to the benefit of every man and 
woman. " What," said Mr Alexander Campbell at the same 
meeting, " wUl it signify what kind of Government you can 
obtain, if the present competitive system contiuues ? . . . 
The people must now act for themselves ; they have too long 
prayed and petitioned others for that which is within their own 
power." At a subsequent meeting of tradesmen Mr Campbell 
advocated that the vote, for which men were then clamouring, 
should be extended to women — a plea that was greeted with 
laughter* — ^but he impressed upon the audience that no plan of 
electoral reform would benefit the working-classes unless they 
themselves would, by uniting, retain the produce of their labour. 
In another speech he was arguing that in a world run on Co- 
operative principles there could be no war — an evil from which 
the people suffered even in 1830 and 1831, when the second 
French Revolution was in progress, and a " scrap of paper," now 
historic, was about to be signed. 

There is a general consensus of opinion that most of the 
societies that had existed prior to this made it their practice to 
divide the profits, as the manufacturers did, on the capital the 
members had invested. Alexander Campbell propagated the 
system known as the Rochdale system in 1822, twenty-two years 
before the Rochdale Pioneers Society. Campbell claimed that 
he had done so.f even after the distinction was claimed for 
Rochdale. Campbell's own society — the Glasgow Co-operative 
Bazaar — did not divide its profits in that way. Its method, and 
* Herald to the Trades' Advocate, 12th March 1831. 
t See Records of Social Science Congresses. 


(1) James Borrowman (early photograph). (2) Jumes Marshall. 


Mr ALEX. MELDBUM, Director in 1868 and President in 1871, and 
Mr RICHARD LEES, Director in 1868, lived to see the Wholesale's Jubilee. 


the method adopted by the Tradeston Society, which was also 
in existence in 1830, was to add all profits to stock — by which 
was meant capital — so that, with all their deficiencies, these 
old Co-operators had begun to see the value of " impersonal 
capital " to which no individual could lay claim. Campbell, 
however, was a persistent advocate of payment of dividend on 
purchases, so that the profits should be allocated to those whose 
trade created them. Charles Howarth, of Rochdale, is credited 
South of the Border with having been the invent r of this system, 
and it is doubtful if full justice has been done to Campbell.* 

The aims of the Co-operators did not stop at distributive 
trade. Meetings of tradesmen were being held all over Scotland 
for the purpose of forming unions which would not only preserve 
wages, but which would organise subscriptions which would 
enable the unions to employ their members. Goods produced 
by the members of one union were to be sold or exchanged to 
the members of other unions ; and, in that way, the workers 
hoped to derive the " full profits of their labour." We have 
before us in the Herald to the Trades' Advocate reports of the 
countless meetings of workmen held to discuss such projects. 
The little journal we refer to was only the pioneer of what was 
intended to be a Co-operatively owned and controlled newspaper. 
It was owned by the trade societies in existence. The Glasgow 
Co-operative Bazaar Society and the Tradeston Co-operative 
Society were both part owners of it. The Herald was to pave 
the way for the Trades Advocate and Co-operative Journal in 
Glasgow ; a similar paper was being issued by the Belfast 
Co-operative Society, the secretary of which (James Kennedy), 
writing to the Glasgow Co-operative Society on 21st December 
1830, described the Herald and the projected Advocate as " the 
first systematic attempt on the part of the people to tell their 
own story." The pages of this, little weekly journal contain 
frequent reference to the misrepresentations of the workers' 
cause published in the Glasgow Herald and Courier and in the 

♦Mr William Nuttall, in 1870, discovered that the Meltham Mills 
Society, which was established ia 1827, had divided profits in proportion 
to the purchases from the very beginning. Comprehensive details of the 
society, including members' purchases and dividends, appeared in the 
Co-operative News in 1871. Neither Campbell nor Howarth appear to 
have known of the society or its methods. 



All these efforts show to what an extent Co-operative thought 
was developing among the people. In a general sort of way it 
might be said that most of the individual Co-operators of the 
period were pretty much inclined to RadicaUsm in politics, some 
were thorough-paced Socialists after Owen's heart, but some — 
who were in accord with the idea of using their collective power 
for their common good — ^were not followers of Owen's theories 
in full. Nevertheless, in nearly every, case, the society was open 
to all who cared to join, and the Herald to the Trades' Advocate 
urged that none should be debarred by the introduction of 
" metaphysical " questions in the societies. One notable 
exception to the general rule was the Hawick Society, established 
in 1839, which for a considerable time would admit no member 
who was not a Chartist. All these early societies were without 
any connecting link except the common bond of similarity, of 
purpose. A Congress was held in Manchester in 1830, which 
may be regarded as the first step in welding these isolated 
societies into a common movement. The societies that existed 
were small, chiefly because the sharing of profits according to 
capital operated unfairly against the poor man with the large 
family and the large purchases, and in favour of the more 
prosperous man with small purchases and with capital to spare. 
The Himgry Forties aggravated the anxieties of the people. 
The weavers of Rochdale, to whom Howarth propounded the 
idea of dividing profits according to purchases, so that the larger 
purchasers would have the larger share, adopted the scheme 
and formulated it in the code of rules governing the Rochdale 
Pioneers' Society established in 1844, and so the system became 
known as the Rochdale system. It had a wonderful effect on the 
working-classes. It promised a fixed rate of remuneration for 
capital used in the society's business, and gave to the purchasers 
the profits that remained, each receiving in proportion to the 
amount of purchases. The profits so earned were to augment 
the capital of the society when members could afford to allow 
their share to He in the funds ; and, with the capital so accumu- 
lated, the Rochdale weavers proclaimed it their intention "to 
proceed to arrange the powers of production, distribution, 
education, and govenunent ; or, in other words, to establish 
a self-supporting home colony of united interests or assist other 
societies in establishing such colonies." We find it difl&cult tp 


distinguish between these ideals and Robert Owen's, Societies 
in existence rapidly changed their methods when they saw the 
success that attended the Rochdale experiment of " sales at 
market price, cash trading, and profit in proportion to purchases." 
It gave these societies a wonderful stimulus. Members were 
able to subscribe the necessary instalments of capital in small 
sums. People willingly paid the Co-operative price because 
they knew the committees who regulated prices for the store 
had no interest in fixing them at a higher level than necessary ; 
and they knew also that, if the society made a large profit,, the 
share of profit credited to them would be large in proportion 
to their purchases.- Philanthropists patted the Rochdale 
Pioneers on the back ; here and there local employers encouraged 
the people to form societies to carry on their little experiments 
in shopkeeping. Many of these patrons only saw the httle 
struggUng shop, served sometimes by the committeemen in 
their turns, and they could not visualise the great movement 
which is now in being, far though Co-operation may yet be 
from its avowed goal, 

A combination of circumstances aided the movement. The 
Chartist movement, which began in 1838 and was carried on for 
ten years with remarkable vigour, failed in its immediate purpose, 
which was to secure^ — (i) Manhood suffrage ; (2) equal electoral 
districts ; (3) vote by ballot ; (4) annual Parliaments ; (5) 
abolition of property quaUfication for members of Parliament ; 
and (6) payment of members of ParUament, If it failed, how- 
ever, it had created a great wave of democratic thought and 
political enthusiasm among the working-classes. PoUtics then 
had an economic aspect even as to-day. The working-men did 
not want votes for the sake of having them ; they wanted them 
so that they could use them to influence social conditions; industrial 
conditions, and economic conditions. Many of the most enthus- 
iastic Chartists were Co-operators, and many of the Co-operatojs 
in existing Societies became Chartists, Chartists, for instance, 
helped to estabUsh the Rochdale Pioneers Society, but some 
of the Lennoxtown Co-operators hplped to plant Chartism 
in their district. While the Chartist agitation collapsed, its 
enthusiasm was so great ■ that it influenced the growth 
of other popular movements, among them the Co-operative 
movement ; but its enthusiasm was . so great, also, _ as 


to influence the Government to recognise that something had 
to be conceded to working-class clamour. It is an experience 
that we have all observed, that enactments are sometimes 
wrung from Legislatures as much because of Ministerial alarm 
as because of the justice of the demand. It so happened that 
the year which saw the estabhshment of the Rochdale Society 
brought important factory legislation to the rehef of the 
workers. In 1846 an amalgamation between trade societies 
was made possible, the Com Laws were aboHshed, and the great 
era of Free Trade was inaugurated. In the same year a Friendly 
Societies Act recognised the legal status of societies estabhshed 
by frugal investments to supply their members with certain 
necessaries. Prior to that people joined such societies at their 
own risk ; they had no redress against dishonest officials ; the 
societies themselves had no protection in their corporate 
capacity ; and landlords and merchants usually held an 
individual responsible for rent or other Habihties. With these 
new enactments, improving the hours of labour, wages, and 
prices, people of the Working-class felt a new sense of relief. 
About the same period the Christian Sociahsts were pursuing 
their propaganda, and this movement brought to the aid of 
Rochdale Co-operation another body of stalwart workers, which 
included men Uke Judge Hughes, Edward Vansittart Neale, 
Frederick Denison Maurice, J. M. Ludlow, and Charles Kingsley, 
who spared neither time nor talents to further the cause of 
Co-operation, with which they were in thorough sympathy. 
The movement benefited during those years from the endeavours 
of earnest Owenites and Chartists, as weU as from the efforts of 
the Christian Sociahsts. It was to the legal knowledge and 
personal influence of some of the Christian Sociahsts that was 
due the passing of the first Industrial and Provident Societies 
Act in 1852. This Act definitely recognised the pecuhar functions 
and the wide aims of the Co-operative movement. It allowed 
members to invest in these societies to the extent of £100 ; but 
it specifically excluded banking from their operations, and 
apphed other hmitations, the pressure of which was soon to be 
felt. The passing of the Pubhc Libraries Acts in 1850 and 1855, 
and the abohtion of " the tax on knowledge," as the newspaper 
tax was called, in 1855, were measures that helped on the move- 
ment very considerably. From 1844 the Rochdale Pioneers had 


been setting aside part of their profit for the education of their 
members, and other societies had followed their plan. To these 
men the cheaper newspaper was a great boon. 

Holyoake visited Scotland on frequent lecturing tours, and in 
several places he explained the Rochdale system. His pubUshed 
" History of Co-operation in Rochdale " also gave a fillip to 
Co-operation in Scotland, but the description given by Robert 
Chambers, in various publications in i860, gave the movement 
a decided impetus. Men discussed the scheme, and agreed to 
give it a trial. Societies sprang into existence all over the 
country, and over a score of societies in Scotland were brought 
into existence as a result of the Chambers's publications. The 
societies in some cases had very humble beginnings ; their 
methods were crude, and their efforts were sometimes painfully 
unsuccessful. The " store " served the purposes of shop, office, 
and boardroom. Committeemen had to assist behind the 
counter at times. Their reward for superintending the business 
of the society and safeguarding the mbney and interests of the 
members was sometimes an ounce of tobacco per week ; but 
they were men, on the whole, who justified the trust reposed 
in them. Working-people realised that committees had no 
interest in selling adulterated goods which they would have to 
use, or in allowing in the store " tricks of the trade " which 
might be practised upon themselves ; and so the movement 
grew in favour with the people. This is a phase of Co-operative 
history that falls to be dealt with in a later chapter, but its 
influence at this early stage in Co-operative history was not 
inconsiderable, and in the late 'fifties and in the early 'sixties 
brought into existence some of the largest and most flourishing 
of the Co-operative societies that exist to-day. It may be added, 
also, that the general condition of the people had improved 
very considerably during the first half of the centuty.* 

* Mr George H. Wood, in the Wholesale Societies' " Annual " for 
1901, stated that between 1790 and 1850 money wages increased about 
41 per cent, while cost of living increased 33 per cent. — a gain of about 
6 per cent, in " real wages," by which he meant " money wages corrected 
by purchasing power." 








If we cast our minds back over the condition of the people 
described in the last chapter, we will gather some facts which 
we must. bear in mind in order to form a just appreciation of 
early Victorian Co-operative efforts. Two outstanding facts 
must be remembered particularly : (i) Compulsory Education 
Acts were not in operation ; (2) the people had a bitter struggle 
against himger and want. An obvious deduction is that the 
general standard of education was low in comparison to what 
it is in our own generation; and .the working-people who 
managed the Co-operative, societies of the period were, to that 
extent, handicapped in competition with those who began with 
an education. Their poverty, apart from the educational 
disadvantage, was a serious material handicap to -their progress 
in Coroperative. trading. The savings that- their Co-operative 
trading effected for them was a veritable boon.. The. capital 
of the Co-operative societies represented the accumulated 
shiUings, and more frequently the accumulated' coppers, of the 
members. These small societies had to buy iii competition 
with well-to-do shopkeepers from well-to-do merchants and 
manufacturers, who could count upon, and who obtained, more 
consideration from the Legislature than the working-people. 


They had little expert knowledge of the quality of goods, and, 
in consequence, they had to rely upon the honesty of their 
providers. That was an inconstant virtue, and the trust of 
the people — ^the. trust of the store committee^ — was often 
betrayed. Business people nowadays are accustomed to resent 
references to the dishonest trading which stimulated early 
Co-operators to do their own business ; but facts do not warrant 
that resentment. To quote a contemporary Co-operative writer 
of the period would perhaps be of httle value ; but Chambers's 
Encyclopcedia ought not to be considered a prejudiced witness. 
This work* quotes a review, pubhshed in 1820, which reads : 
" Devoted to disease by baker, butcher, grocer, wine merchant, 
spirit dealer, cheesemonger, pastrycook, and confectioner, we 
call in the phj^idan to our - assistance. But here again the 
pernicious system of fraud, as it has given the blow, steps in 
to defeat the remedy. The unprincipled dealer in drugs and 
mec^cines exerts the most potent and diabolical ingenuity in 
sophisticating the most potent and necessary drugs." From 
the same authority we learn that an Inland Revenue officer 
stated, in 1843, that there were beUeved to be eight factories 
in London for the purpose of re-drying exhausted tea leaves 
in London alone. These leaves, collected from hotels and 
elsewhere, were soaked in gum, and treated variously, according 
to the quality of. tea for which they were to be sold. If they 
were to be sold as " ordinary black, tea," they were mixed with 
rflse^pink -and black lead." Other leaves — sycamore, horse- 
chestnut, and sloe — ^were often used in these factories, treated, 
and sold — sold, as were also the. unfortunate consumers. It 
was not till i860 (the Encyclopcedia informs us) " that any 
gener^ Act of Parliament dealing with food adulteration was. 
passed into law in Great Britain. Previous to that date, special 
statutes applsdng to certain specified articles, such as tea, coffee, 
bread, and wine, were in force ; but the main object of these 
enactments was to prevent the defrauding of the revenue, the health 
and protection of the purchaser being, apparently, a matter of. 
secondary importance." \ ~ ■ 

. Till 1830 there was Httle if any association between Co-opera- 
tive societies, except the friendly community of interest between 
neighbouring societies and the community of purpose propagated 
* Cf., Article on " Adulteration." 


by such little publications as appeared in support of the 
Co-operative idea. The Congresses begun in London in 1830 
brought the existing societies into association for a time ; but 
they ceased to be held. " Co-operative organisation in the year 
following 1844 seems to have been somewhat parochial in its 
character. The magnificence which seemed to have characterised 
most of the committees of earlier days was, for the time being, 
laid aside, and Co-operators settled down to the practical 
consideration of their immediate difficulties."* These difficulties 
were real enough for the best of the societies, manned as many 
of them were, by leaders who had had to go to earn their 
livelihood when they were nine or ten years of age. There were 
constantly arising questions which needed explanations, and 
problems which called for guidance. From 1850 onwards, 
conferences were periodically held to discuss these questions ; 
and so Co-operators from various parts of the country were 
brought into contact. They found that their difficulties were 
all much of the same kind. The prices societies had to pay 
for their stocks hampered their efforts. Besides, shopkeepers 
had awakened to the fact that the trade done by these amateurs 
was trade that they were losing. The success on the part of 
the " store " aroused the jealousy of shopkeepers, who 
" attempted to persuade some of the wholesale dealers not to 
supply the stores, and threatened to take away their trade 
from any firm who refused their request. "t The situation 
called for some Co-operative trade protection. It was not a 
new idea even then, for the trade societies, referred to in the 
last chapter, which sprang up in .various parts of Scotland and 
England, conceived of something like a federation in which 
these productive societies could all join. At the Manchester 
Congress of Owenite societies in 1831, a Wholesale Co-operative 
Society was projected, and opened in business in December of 
that year in Liverpool. A society that wished to become a 
member under that plan had to contribute £20 of capital for 
every hundred of its own members ; and the Wholesale Society 
was to charge its members i per cent, commission and non- 
members i| per cent, commission on business done for them 
respectively. It seems to have disappeared before 1833. In 

* " Industrial Co-operation," by Catherine Webb. 

t " V^rorking-men Co-operators," by A. H. D. Acland and B. Jones. 


1850 Judge Hughes, and his colleagues at the head of the 
Christian Socialist societies, established at their own risk a 
central Co-operative agency, which did not only propose to buy 
and sell for Co-operative societies but to organise exchanges of 
goods between them, to organise propaganda effort, to assist 
Co-operative societies with legal and business advice, and to 
assist in the formation of societies, so that it aimed at per- 
forming the functions of some of the Co-operative wholesale 
societies on the Continent of Europe to-day, which, to a Icirge 
extent, combine the functions of the British Co-operative Union 
and the English and Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Societies 
as we know them. This society went under before it reached 
its third year. In 1855 the Rochdale Society estabUshed a 
wholesale department from which other societies could be 
supplied. It did not command general support from Co-operative 
societies, because there was no confidence in the view that one 
society could undertake to perform the functions of a wholesale 
house, or that the Rochdale Society was better fitted, by financi^ 
strength or business experience, to reheve societies of the worries 
already described, than any other existing society. The con- 
stitution of the Owenite " wholesale " society was on more 
Co-operative lines than the Rochdale wholesale department, 
because its operations would have been controlled by a 
co-operatively chosen committee representing the member- 
societies. The chief obstacle in the way of the success of the 
Owenite project and of the Christian Socialist " agency " was 
the law as it stood. The members of a society were legally 
liable to the last penny of their property for debts incurred by 
the society. A society could not be a partner in another society. 
Under the constitution of a federation such as the Owenites 
projected, a society becoming a member of the federation had 
to appoint a representative in whose name the society's con- 
tribution could be invested in the federation. That member 
became one of the partners in the federation, or company, and 
he became responsible to his last penny for the debts of the 
federation just as the members of the local society were 
responsible. In a central society, or co-operative federation, 
intended to do business in a wholesale fashion, the commitments 
might conceivably be large ; the financial risks run by the. 
member who held the shares in the federation on behalf of his 


local society would have been very great. These conditions 
made wholesale Co-operation almost impossible. 

Co-operators, nevertheless, struggled for a solution of the 
problem of wholesale supply. In tracing, the progress malde 
towards that solution, we have been helped by the comprehensive 
account compiled by Mr Percy Redfem, the editor of The 
Wheatsheaf* . Briefly summarised, Mr Redfem's story informs 
us that, in i860, Mr Henry Pitman (with whom it has been our 
privilege to fraternise at the press table at Co-operative 
Congresses) urged the formation of a wholesale agency in the 
fifth issue of The Co-opetator, which came into existence in that 
year.. "Sooner or later," said the editor (Mr Pitman), "we 
■shall be compelled to import articles for consumption, as well 
as for manufacture, and a union .of the various societies in 
existence will enable it to be done." In December i860 
Mr Pitman was again harping on the . same striijg. In 1861 
(January) it was recorded that a wholesale depot had been 
estabhshed at Huddersfield by thirteen societies ; but this was 
registered as a joint-stock company. Several other proposals 
appeared in the columns of the Uttle organ, which had so speedily 
proved its . usefulness. The secretary of the Reading Society 
propounded a plan, in January 1861, under which a wholesale 
Co-operative society could be formed of all the stores theij in 
existence ; the shares to be, say, ;£20 each ; a store was to be 
allowed to subscribe for any number of shares up to what might 
be fixed as the maximum ; the wholesale society was to -be 
worked by a committee appointed by the representatives of 
the store in the same way as the committee of the ordinary 
stores ; and the profits -were to be shared on the same principle. 
" By this means all the lesser stores would be enabled," he 
said, " to obtain goods as pure and as cheap as those which 
have the largest capital." To use the language of our statesmen 
of the. war-period, we may say that the Reading secretary 
(Mr W. E. Bond) thus ." found a formula " which expressed the 
aspirations that Co-operators had entertained for thirty years. 
The Rochdale Society iad, in conjunction with a few .other 
socieities, estabhshed a corn-mill which, in one. quarter alone; 
meant a dividend of 3d. per £ more for the societies than the 
dividend would have .been if the society had not had this 
*'■ The 'Story of the C.Vi^.S." ; 


Co-operative mill to fall back upon. This fact stimulated 
thought. Veteran propagandists discussed the subject from all 
angles. Tea-parties — on the lines of those " fraternal gatherings" 
which the Scottish Section of the Co-operative Union had done 
a good deal to popularise just before the war broke out — ^were held 
at a Coroperative farm near Middleton (Lancashire), to which 
Co-operative enthusiasts went to chat about current difficulties 
and prospective developments. At one of these tea-parties, in 
1862, the subject of a general depot for the service of all the 
societies was discussed ; and Mr WiUiam Marcroft, of Oldham, 
in the course of the discussion, made the prophetic utterance 
that " Co-operators must not rest until they had their own ships 
bringing the produce of other lands direct from the producer 
to the consumer, thereby- saving to themselves the profits of 
the middleman." WiUiam Cooper, of Rochdale, who had been 
a wilHng adviser, to Scottish Co-operators who wished to 
transform the basis of their societies to that of Rochdale, was 
a regular attender at some of these tea-parties ; and present at 
some of them also was Noah Briggs, of Prestwieh, who also 
gave helpful advice to the Alloa Society in its early days. On 
the need for a central trading organisation all these heroes, of 
the past .were agreed. . The law was against them, for the reasons 
already given.. WiUiam Cooper argued that no Act of ParUament 
could stop them if the Co-operators did what was right ; but 
the .majority, recognised the . difficulties, and were almost- all 
agreed that it would be impossible to form a federation of 
stores untU the law was altered so- as to aUow societies, • as 
corporate bodies, to invest capital. in other societies. 

That was a tough proposition. ParUament .is not yet 'a 
thoroughly representative assembly, because there are many 
stiU .unenfranchised ; but, then, it was far short of what it was 
even before the 1918 .Act. Nevertheless, there were some 
Members of ParUament who regarded the Co-operative movement 
with something Uke benevolence, because it made for thrift 
and. the elevation of the working-classes. The leaders of the 
Christian SociaUst school were enthusiasticaUy behind tiie 
Rochdale school of Co-operation. The Co-operators wanted 
many improvements, .in the law. The law limited a society's 
ownership of land to. one acre; that restriction had to go. 
Co-operators, also wanted restrictions on their coUective acquisi- 


tion of property to be removed. They wanted working-people 
banded together in Co-operative societies to have the same 
privileges of hmited liabiUty as was already enjoyed by wealthy 
investors in joint-stock companies. They wanted societies, in 
their corporate capacity, to be able to invest capital in other 
societies. They wanted to be able to provide educational grants 
from the profits, a Rochdale provision that had been rendered 
illegal by a subsequent Act of Parhament. To secure the. 
incorporation of these reforms in an Act to amend the existing 
Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, they invoked the aid 
of Edward Vansittart Neale. His great legal knowledge, and 
his personal influence, it was believed, would secure what the 
Co-operators themselves could not effect. While this step was 
taken, other practical steps were also being taken so that the 
amendment of the law might find the Co-operators ready. To 
that purpose, meetings of buyers for Co-operative societies were 
being held as a preUminary step towards the creation of the 
big new venture in higher Co-operation. Meanwhile Mr Neale 
devoted himself to the task committed to him. He drafted 
the new BiU required. He used all the influence he possessed ; 
and in 1861 the Bill, which commanded the support of Richard 
Cobden, W. Ewart, and John Bright, was introduced by Mr 
R. A. Slaney, M.P. for Shrewsbury. Parliamentary machinery 
was ill-lubricated in those days — an ailment which has not yet 
been remedied so far as amehorative working-class legislation 
is concerned — and the Bill did not make sufficient progress to 
enable it to go through that session. The promoters of the Bill, 
and the Co-operative enthusiasts who were eager for its passing, 
were disappointed. The committee representing the Lancashire 
societies met, and decided to ask the societies to vote a levy 
upon their members in order that a Co-operative deputation 
might be sent to London. The deputation was sent to under- 
take the " lobbying " necessary to get the Bill hurried on and 
to post friends as to the position of the Co-operative societies. 
Many deputations have made weary pilgrimages to Westminster 
since then to ask for the removal of obstacles to the progress to 
which the Co-operative movement legitimately aspires ; but 
they have not all been so successful as that deputation in 1862. 
When the time came for the introduction of the BUI, Mr Slaney 
was ill, and Mr J. Southern Estcourt agreed to take charge of 


it. Mr Slaney was a Liberal ; Mr Estcourt was a Conservative 
ex-Home Secretary who represented North Wiltshire. In 
moving the Bill, he stated that there were 150 Co-operative 
societies in existence, which had done a business of £1,512,117 
in the preceding year — a figure which he described as an " extra- 
ordinary and almost incredible sum." The Bill went through 
without any serious opposition. We have referred to Mr E. V. 
Neale's services. Let us pause : Neale was a London barrister. 
He drafted that Bill ; he was in constant correspondence with 
the Co-operative committee in Lancashire ; he took a personal 
interest in the effort to secure the passing of the Bill ; he 
buttonholed members of both Houses. The costs of the legis- 
lation to the Co-operative committee amounted to £44, 19s. yd. 
Neale's " fee " amounted to seven guineas— scarcely so much as 
a pettifogging lawyer will take for pushing a claim under the 
Workmen's Compensation Act, which is supposed to obviate 
litigation. Even then, of the seven guineas he asked that five 
should be deducted for the Cotton Famine Relief Fund rendered 
necessary by the effects on Lancashire of the American Civil 
War. It speaks volumes for the willing service of the man. 

In all these efforts it must not be assumed that Scotland was 
silent or idle. Her part will be dealt with in the following 
chapter ; so that we may here conclude the story of the 
estabhshment of wholesale Co-operation. The Act of 1862 
made possible the great achievements which have followed. 
It provided the longed-for solution of many of the troubles that 
confronted societies. It made possible, for the first time, on 
a sound basis, a Co-operative society of Co-operative societies. 
It facihtated the growth of local societies. It enabled the 
societies to combine to do together what they could not do 
singly. It made it possible to give effect to the plan suggested 
by Mr Bond, of Reading. They could form the long talked of 
Wholesale Society, which could be constituted just as other 
societies were, except that its members would be societies instead 
of individuals ; they could elect their committee of management 
like any other society, except that the members of the committee 
would be representatives of members instead of individual 
members ; they could, through meetings of delegates, direct 
and control the operations of the wholesale society just as they 
themselves were directed and controlled by the will of the 


members expressed at their own meetings ; they could lay 
down plans for the conduct of the business of the federation, 
stipulate for the best quality of goods to be supplied, save the 
profits of the wholesalers for the societies just as the societies 
saved the profits of the retailers for the individual consumer- 
member, and they could gradually ehminate the middlemen. 
The prospects were not restricted to buying and selling as we 
have seen from the foregoing. Production and manufacture of 
goods, importing of goods, transport of goods in Co-operative 
ships, were all among the dreams of those who had promoted 
Co-operation ; possession of land, the provision of houses and 
works, direction of education, and control of Government were 
also among those dreams. The Act of 1862 brought those 
dreams nearer reaUsation. It had its imperfections upon its 
head, nevertheless. The Act authorised individuals to invest 
£200 in Co-operative societies instead of £100 previously allowed, 
but it fixed the same sum as the maximum which might be 
invested by one society . in another. Under such conditions 
there was little prospect of the wholesale society revolutionising 
the trade and industry of the kingdom. There were other 
defects, but this was the. most obvious ; and along with, several 
others it was remedied by an amending Act in 1867. 

These defects did not deter Co-operators from attempting to 
make the best of their opportunity. Immediately after the 
Act was passed, a conference of Co-operative delegates was 
held at Oldham — ^it was on Christmas Day, 1862 — at which 
Mr Abraham Greenwood read a paper unfolding a scheme. It 
was there resolved that a Co-operative wholesale society should 
be immediately formed. The idea put forward was that an 
ofl&ce should be opened at Liverpool or Manchester ; none but 
Co-operative societies were to be allowed to become shareholders 
or purchasers ; the business was to be conducted for ready 
money ; goods were to be bought only to order, and to be 
invoiced at cost price, a small commission being charged to 
defray the working expenses ; societies were to pay their own 
carriage ; and the capital was to be raised by every society 
taking up shares in proportion to the number of its members. 
This project was carried out, and the new federation was 
registered in August 1863 under the title of the North of England 
Co-operative Wholesale Industrial and Provident Society Limited. 


A letter addressed from any part of the world to-day to " The 
C.W.S., Manchester," would be delivered without any delay ; 
but it was under this imposing title that. the " C.W.S.," as we 
know it, began business in 1864. An article on the relations of 
the Wholescile societies to the retail societies* describes the 
weakness of the original plan : " Within six months from the 
commencement of business, the Wholesale Society had to discard 
the agency principle of charging cost price plus a small com- 
mission. The theory seemed perfect ; but,, in practice, it could 
not be carried out successfully." The " Wholesale " had to 
change its methods. It had to seU goods as the retail .stores 
sold the goods, at or sUghtly below the prevailing market prices, 
and divide the profits, as the retail societies. did, in proportion 
to purchases. The application of this " Rochdale plan " to 
Co-operative Wholesale trade had results even more astonishing 
than the results that followed the adoption of the Rochdale 
system in the retail trade. The reasons for the lack of success 
in the original " agency system " are given in the article just 
referred to. Briefly, the reasons were that, owing to the 
exigencies of trade, the Wholesale had sometimes to purchase 
larger supplies than were immediately needed. Prices fluctuated ; 
when the market rose there was no difficulty in finding buyers 
at " cost price plus commission " ; but when prices went down 
and the Wholesale's " cost price plus commission " exceeded 
the price at which goods could be bought, the buyers " passed 
the Wholesale." By seUing at the prevaihng market price, or 
sHghtly below it, the profit or loss was averaged over all the 
members; none got any special advantage and none suffered, 
any special disadvantage, but all benefited generally. Success 
was assured by the change, although there were advocates of 
the " open door " who did not beUeve in concentrating all their 
purchases in the Wholesale Society of their own creation. 
Wholesale houses which formerly suppUed societies with goods, 
used their most alluring wiles to retain the accoimts of these 
societies. AU kinds of enterprises sprang up to capture the trade 
of the societies which seemed hkely to go to the Wholesale 
Society. At least one private venture was formed which, called 
itself the National Co-operative Agency, and which advertised, in 
The Co-operator that it sold goods only to Co-operative Societies.. 
* " B. J., L. B.," in the Wholesale Societies' "Annual," X896. 


What alarmed the wholesale houses were the enormous 
potentiahties of the Co-operative Wholesale Society. The 
Wholesale's first financial statement only covered a period of 
seven weeks. It showed sales which, with the commission (one 
penny per £) added, only amounted to £5.962 ; and the capital 
paid up was only £999 ; but there were fifty-four societies in 
membership, and their trade was bound to grow. In addition 
to that, the committee in their preamble to the accounts had 
openly declared that : " The object sought to be attained was 
to bring the producer and the consumer into more immediate 
contact, and thus enhance the profits of Co-operation by 
diminishing the cost of distribution. This, we beUeve, can be 
done with the least possible risk, by aggregating the purchases 
•of the whole, or part, of the societies in the North of England, 
and buying the commodities required, with ready money, in 
quantities sufficiently large to command the best markets. By 
securing societies against imposition, in the da}^ of their infancy 
and inexperience, and enabling them to purchase on more 
advantageous terms than the largest societies have hitherto 
done, we shall ensure the healthy extension and consolidation 
of our movement. Many societies have already testified to the 
advantage they have derived from our operations. Still greater 
benefits are in store, if we are only true to ourselves, and are 
determined that the general interests of Co-operation shall not 
be sacrificed to the prejudice or antagonism of individuals." 
The hopes of the committee were gratified somewhat slowly. 
In 1866 the membership was nearly two hundred, and the sales 
were approximately a quarter of a miUion for the year. While 
the committee were not satisfied, the private firms were very 
dissatisfied at losing this turnover. The more the turnover 
grew, the more dissatisfied were the merchants. The element 
of private profit did not affect those responsible for the conduct 
of the Wholesale trade. They were merely the servants of the 
purchasers. They and their operations were under the super- 
vision of the representatives of the purchasers. Store committees, 
store salesmen, and store customers began to realise the advantage 
of having carried the Co-operative principle and Co-operative 
methods into the Wholesale trade. The Grocer at length became 
alarmed, and in 1867 began to organise a boycott of any firm 
which had any connection with Co-operative societies, and a 


0) John Allan. (2) Allan Gray. (3) Andrew Miller. (4) John Pearson. 


(1) Gabriel Thomson. 

(2) John Barrowman, 


few years later it published a list of eighty-four firms which 
refused to do business with Co-operative concerns ; but, there 
were trading firms then — even as there are now — ^who kept 
free from prejudices and who refused to follow the lead of 
The Grocer. 

The oddest result of Co-operative Wholesale trading was that 
retail grocers themselves, who, no doubt, deplored the growth of 
a movement which deprived them of trade, adopted the 
Co-operative principle, and formed the London Grocers' 
Wholesale Society, which was registered under the Industrial 
and Provident Societies Acts. Its members were six hundred 
retail grocers ; but their total shares in the concern only 
amoimted to £4,861, and the venture had to be given up. A 
similar organisation was attempted in Manchester ; but, Uke 
their London compeers, these business men, concerned about 
private profit and actuated by the individuahstic principle of 
" each for himself," failed to do what has been done so success- 
fully by the working-men of the country concerned only for 
the common good and actuated by the Co-operative principle 
of " all for each and each for all." It is odd that for the sake 
of expediency these people should have attempted to practise a 
system which they professed to condemn in principle ; but the 
same inconsistency is manifest to-day, for the individualistic 
farmer will co-operate with his fellow individuahsts for the 
purchase of seeds, and the purchase and use of tractors and 
other machines in use in modem agriculture ; and those who 
are so fortunate as to indulge in motoring for a pastime, have 
formed Co-operative societies to provide themselves with motor 
accessories. The spirit of individualism cannot apply itself to 
a Co-operative system which seeks the common good of all ; and 
such a Co-operative system disappoints those whose chief aim 
is self-aggrandisement ; hence the failure of those odd attempts 
to imitate Co-operative methods, and hence the greater progress 
of Co-operatiOn in those districts where the members of societies 
most truly shed the spirit of selfishness and Co-operate with their 
fellows for the good of all who care to share in the responsibihties 
and advantages. 













What were the Co-operators of Scotland thinking of while 
their friends South of the Tweed were creating enthusiasm fqr 
the wholesale agency ? They were just as eager to carry the 
Co-operative principle into wholesale trade as anybody else. 
Efforts had been made, in the days of livehest Owenite enthu-: 
siasm, to form a central union of the trade unions for the exchange 
of productions. That day had passed. The distributive 
societies that had since been formed acquired a knowledge of 
the needs of the people. In other words, one of the great advan- 
tages that the Co-operative society had over the private, trader 
was that the Society was catering for a known market, while the 
private shopkeeper was speculating upon a peobabi^e market. 
The advantage that a wholesale federation of such societies 
would have over the ordinary wholesale house which, like its 
retailer customers, would have to buy largely in a speculative, 
way, was quite apparent to Scotsmen, who had akeady perceived 
the value of Co-operation. Scottish Co-operators, therefore, 
were not silent witnesses to the progress that was being made 


towards federation. Mr Robert Murray, in his " History of 
Barrhead Co-operative Society," mentions that two menabers 
of the committee of the society were appointed to attend a 
conference to consider the subject in November 1861 ; but, a 
year prior to that, a letter in support of a Co-operative wholesale 
agency had been written by a Scottish Co-operator. As we 
mentioned in the last chapter, the idea of a wholesale agency 
was dealt with by Mr Henry Pitman in the fifth issue of the 
Co-operator. That was the October issue in i860. Almost 
immediately, a member of the " Hawick Chartist Store " — which 
had by that time dropped the word " Chartist " from its title — 
wrote an excellent letter to the editor of the Co-operator com- 
mending the suggestion. "Sooner or later," he wrote, "we 
shall be compelled to import articles for consumption as well as 
for manufacture. The wholesale agencies referred to, if adopted, 
win no doubt be beneficial in the importation of foreign 
productions, and may also be rendered available for the concen- 
tration and distribution of home manufactured goods. Such a 
wholesale agency would give an impulse to the Co-operative Cotton 
Manufacturing Companies now flourishing in several districts 
in England, and also to the hosiery company recently formed in 
Hawick. These manufacturing companies would see their way 
to an extensive trade, as none of them produce any goods but 
what are required, more or less, by each individual Co-operator." 
It was a helpful contribution to the public discussion of a big 
proposition. We should like to know who the writer was. He 
simply signed his letter " Juniper," and there was no address 
printed save " Hawick," so that the laurels to which he is entitled 
for his early effort to develop Co-operative opinion in the direction 
of wholesale Co-operation cannot be awarded him. When the 
S.C.W.S. did come into existence, it took the Hawick Society 
ten years to make up its mind to join ; and even then there was 
a good deal of opposition, partly because some members thought 
the society's rules did not allow of the investment of capital in 
the shares of other concerns. " Juniper," however, was ahead 
of his feUow Borderers ; and the English Wholesale Society 
came into existence because he and others were shrewd enough 
to see the great potentialities of wholesale Co-operation. The 
editor of the Co-operator:^d him a slight injustice, for it\vas not 
till January 1861 that his October letter was published. The 


paper was published monthly, so that the letter missed two 
issues ; but the date is printed with the letter, and we may 
presume that Mr Pitman found the same difficulty as editors have 
to-day in fitting four columns of matter into two columns of space. 

An important step forward was taken by the Edinburgh 
societies, which had experienced the difficulties of most other 
societies. On 5th June 1863 a conference of representatives of 
these societies was held* in Buchanan's Temperance Hotel, 
Edinburgh, at which it was decided to establish a wholesale 
agency, which was subsequently named the " Edinburgh Central 
Co-operative Association." There were shrewd men present. 
The talk was of a preUminary nature, but, within a fortnight, 
eight societies were enrolled as members. Three of these 
societies are still in existence, viz. : — St Cuthbert's, Leith, and 
Portobello. The committee comprised Messrs Caw, St Cuthbert's 
(chairman) ; Menzies, St Margaret's (vice-chairman) ; Louden, 
Greenside Society (secretary) ; Fyvie, Richmond Place Society 
(treasurer) ; and Marshall, Water of Leith Society (not the 
Leith Society). This C.W.S. in embryo was bu5dng goods for its 
society members before the end of June 1863 — two months 
before the North of England Wholesale Society was registered, 
and nearly a year before that federation began to trade. The 
business of the association was conducted for about four years 
somewhat spasmodically ; various schemes of a federal character 
were discussed ; but the association was too small, and various 
other reasons also served to prevent it from doing what it set 
out to do with any degree of success. The attempt had been 
made thus early ; we cannot recall any similar experiment prior 
to that ; and the men who made this attempt deserve some little 
credit for their enterprise. They recognised th^t their own 
venture was not the last word in wholesale Co-operation, and 
they gave the Co-operators of the West a hand in launching 
the S.C.W.S. when the move was being made in that direction. 

While we do Hawick, and the Edinburgh societies, the 
justice of recording these forgotten facts, we have to return to 
do homage to Barrhead. The power of the Press was as great 
in those days as it is to-day, and the Co-operative movement 
of the 'sixties owed as much to the Co-operative Press of the 
period as the movement does in our own day. While wholesale 
* " First Fifty Years of St Cuthbert's." 


Co-operation seems a natural development of the " store " 
system, it was inaugurated in England through the instru- 
mentality of the Co-operator earUer than it would have been 
if there had been no pubhcation of that kind. So, too, in 
Scotland, Co-operative progress was stimulated by the pubhcation 
of the Scottish Co-operator, for the institution of which Mr John 
M'Innes, of Barrhead, was responsible. That was only a small 
publication issued monthly. It had eight pages about the size 
of the City of Perth's Co-operative Pioneer, which has had quite 
a long and useful run under the editorship of enthusiasts. The 
Scottish Co-operator ran into a hundred copies for the first month, 
but it gradually increased, and when it ceased, after eight years, 
it had a circulation of about 3,000 copies per month. It was 
merged in the Co-operative News when that was set up in 1871, and 
Mr M'Innes became the Scottish representative of the News, a 
post which he held almost to his death in 1880. 

Mr M'Innes made good use of the space at his disposal in the 
Scottish Co-operator. The first issue appeared in July 1863, and 
before the end of the year the editor was agitating Co-operators 
with the view to holding a conference to discuss the desirabihty 
of instituting a wholesale agency for Scotland such as had been 
decided upon for the North of England in August of that year. 
It was a useful lead, for Mr M'Innes, hke " Juniper " of Hawick, 
was only theorising, although theorising upon pretty safe 
premises, for the North of England Society had not then begun 
business,- and the Edinburgh venture had not proved its utiUty. 
The subject was taken up by readers of the Scottish Co-operator, 
and letters to the editor showed that a good deal of support could 
be counted upon in the event of the initiative steps being taken. 
The Glasgow Co-operative Society and its neighbour, St RoUox 
Society, prosecuted the subject very vigorously. This was not 
the Glasgow Co-operative Bazaar with which Alexander 
Campbell had been connected in the 'thirties ; but Campbell was 
also one of the leading spirits in the new Glasgow Society, which 
came into existence about 1856 or 1857. Campbell was a 
wonderful man in many respects. His earUer activities have 
been noted in another chapter, but he was as vigorously in favour 
of the Rochdale system as he had been of the earUer movement 
in Scotland. He took part in the Social Science Congress 
several times, and the fact that Co-operation was constantly 


being discussed at these gatherings, and frequently discussed 
at meetings of the British Association, was significant evidence 
of the attention which the movement had attracted not only 
ainong the working-people who needed its economies, but among 
the " intellectuals " who theorised regarding the world as it 
was and as it should be. Campbell was afterwards attached to 
the Glasgow Sentinel, which had been founded by Robert 
Buchanan, who joined in the Owenite campaign about 1837. 
It may be recalled, also, that Campbell was one of the managers 
of the Orbiston community founded by Owen. Of Campbell's 
enthusiasm there could be no question, nor was his vision at 
.fault ; but the 1830 society went to pieces because,. as the Herald 
to the Trades' Advocate put it, schism came " of intermingUng 
metaphysics with the everyday purposes of life." The second 
society was not on a stable basis either ; but, the trouble in that 
case was purely materialist and not metaphysical. The society 
spread out more rapidly than prudence would have advised. 
Members decided . upon establishing branches in various parts 
of the city, but,, when they were estabUshed, the members who 
had called for them did not support them ; and, as no law 
existed then — as none exists now— to enforce moral obligations, 
.the society ultimately went.into the melting-pot. His connection 
with these two faihng societies detracts from Campbell's reputa- 
tion, but he could scarcely be blamed for these misfortunes. 
One of the prerogatives of democracy is that if the democracy 
.wants to go wrong it is entitled to go wrong, and there is probably 
more human satisfaction in going one's own way voluntarily, 
even if it be the wrong way, than there is in going somebody 
else's way, even if it be the right way. Be that as it may, the 
second Glasgow Co-operative Society took a wrong, turning 
which, as we have said, led it into the melting-pot. The end 
did not come till 1865, however ; and, Campbell and .the com- 
mittee of the society were among the promoters of a conference 
held in the BeU Hotel, in the Trongate, Glasgow, in April 1864, 
" to consider the necessity of establishing a wholesale depot or 
agency in Glasgow for the purpose of supplying Co-operative 
societies in the West of Scotland and elsewhere with pure 
groceries and provisions from the best markets." 

Mr John Bimie, of St RoUox Society, presided at the con- 
ference, and. explained that as the societies could not, under the 


existing conditions, get beyond the wholesale dealers, the 
advantages the members enjoyed were limited. In adopting 
the scheme of a wholesale agency or depot for themselves, the 
profits of the merchants could be added to those of the retailers. 
He reminded them that the proposition was not new, because it 
had been already adopted by the Co-operators of the North of 
England. The paper read at the Oldham conference by Mr 
Abraham Greenwood, explaining the method of carrying on a 
wholesale agency, was read to the delegates from. Mr Pitman's 
Co-operator, together with an editorial article. There were 
delegates present from twenty-six societies, but fourteen 
societies voted in favour of an agency being estabUshed without 
a depot ; eleven were in favour of an agency with a depot. The 
conference represented 6,iii members of societies, with capital 
amounting to £12,901, and sales to the amount of £2,703 weekly, 
or £130,556 per annum. Alexander Campbell, who moved that 
the committee be instructed to take steps to carry out the 
suggestion given, and to report as early ,as could be foimd 
practicable, declared that the conference was " one of the most 
important Co-operative gatherings ever held in Scotland." 
The chairman, describing the business done, remarked that it 
was Hke "building a bridge that would, carry Co-operators to 
prosperity." The Glasgow Sentinel published a reference to the 
conference, and dwelt upon the proposed wholesale society. 
-The object of that society, said the Sentinel, was to develop to 
its legitimate end a movement which promised." to put within 
reach of the working-rnen not only wealth and comfort, but 
the political status which has hitherto been denied, them on 
account of their poverty." The article pointed out that 
" within the short period that has elapsed frojn what might be 
called the second advent of Co-operation , into Scotland, the 
movement has made surprising strides. In, the. earlier experi- 
ments made the true Co-operative principles were not known 
nor acted on, and the result was an ahnost universal failure of 
the societies started to the discomfiture of their members and to 
the scandal of this great social movement." In conclusion it 
said : " With the additional profits on the wholesale purchases, 
the retail Co-operators will find their, own position better 
assured . . . an.d encourage others, of their own class to engage 
in an experiment which costs nothing, but which promises 


wealth and social and political advantages no other movement 
has been able to realise." We presimie these view? represented 
the opinions of Campbell* and the committee; and they certainly 
give some indication of the attitude of some Co-operators of 
fifty years ago to the question of " Co-operators and Politics," 
which has recently stirred not only the Co-operative world, but 
the whole realm of British pohtics. All the things promised in 
the speeches of Campbell and the chairman of that conference, 
and in the article in the Sentinel, were to come ; but beyond 
quickening Co-operative opinion in the direction of wholesale 
Co-operation, the conference did httle, and the committee left 
to take practical measures did less. The members of the com- 
mittee who were in the Glasgow Co-operative Society — and they 
dominated it — had soon something more intimate to think of. 
Two months after the conference notice of motion to wind up 
the Glasgow Society was lodged, and, a year later, it disappeared. 
Mr M'Innes was deeply hurt because he was not invited to 
that conference called to discuss a subject which he and his 
paper had made a Uve question ; but when a year elapsed and 
nothing appeared to be coming of it — ^not even a report from the 
committee — his sense of personal slight was forgotten in his 
righteous wrath at the possible harm Ukely to result from the 
business they were appointed to do having been " so unmerci- 
fully burked " by the committee. Readers pestered him with 
letters on the subject, and he stated fi'ankly in the Scottish 
Co-operator that if anything was to be done the matter would 
have to " be placed in other hands." He quickly revived 
Co-operative interest in the project, and, eventually, he con- 
vened a conference at the office of the Scottish Co-operator, at 
Barrhead, on 2nd September 1865. Readers of Mr Maxwell's 
" History of Co-operation in Scotland " know the details. The 
conference was not called in connection with the formation of a 
wholesale society specifically, but to consider the propriety of 
arranging periodical meetings of Co-operative representatives 
to discuss Co-operative topics. Needless to say, however, the 
subject which had been so eagerly discussed in the columns of 
the paper occupied the chief part of the improvised programme. 
The delegates present were : — Messrs Robert Stark, Barrhead 
Society ; James Borrowman, Crosshouse ; Paterson, Alexander. 
* Campbell was attached to the Sentinel. 


and Roger, Paisley Equitable Society; Edmond, Cockbum, 
Pearson, Wright, and Paton, Paisley Provident Society; 
Thomas Leckie, St Rollox ; John Robertson, Hamilton ; 
Simpson and Macdonald, Port-Glasgow ; John Borrowman, 
St Cuthbert's ; Paxton, M'Nab, and PhiUp, Renfrew ; and John 
M'Innes, the convener. With men like M'Innes, Stark, John 
Borrowman, and James Borrowman present, it was evident that 
there would be a move on ; but the delegates had no definite 
information regarding the position of the committee appointed at 
the conference already referred to, and it was decided that Mr 
M'Innes, who was appointed secretary of the assembly, should 
estabhsh some sort of communication with the committee and 
ascertain how matters really stood. The conference, however, 
talked round the subject in a general way. The scarcity of 
capital was thought to be an obstacle to the establishment of 
a Scottish society on the lines of the North of England Society, 
which had now been carrying on business for about eighteen 
months. Mr Pitman's Co-operator had been urging the North 
of England Society to estabhsh a branch in London and one in 
Edinburgh, but that step had not been taken. The conference 
thought of estabhshing trading relations with the Enghsh 
Society, but the distance from Manchester, and the carriage 
costs, seemed to rule that proposition out, and the compromise 
that suggested itself was that the Scottish societies might set 
up a wholesale agency for the supply of butter and sugar. The 
conference, however, contented itself with the decision to 
ascertain what the existing committe'e of inquiry had done. 
In reply to the commimication from Mr M'Innes, Mr John 
Duncan, the secretary of the late Glasgow Society, explained 
that there were only two members of that committee left in 
Glasgow, and he thought the new committee need not count 
upon anything having been done. 

It was not till 7th April 1866 that the next conference was 
held in the Bell Hotel, Glasgow. The- societies sending delegates 
were asked to supply certain details regarding their societies, 
so as to guide the conference in its action. The official report 
of this conference also has been given in Mr Maxwell's History, 
along with reports of the subsequent meetings prehminary to 
the estabhshment of the Wholesale, but cannot be excluded 
from this record on that account. 



The following table gives the societies represented, the 
lielegates appointed to represent them, and the details asked 
-for. A comparison of these statistics, with up-to-date statistics 
of such of the societies as stiU exist, wiU interest present members. 





Last Quarter. 



£ s. d. 

£ S. 







442 7 7 

936 16 



J. Millar 


366 16 91 

945 16 





J. Millar 


2,220 11 7i 



J. M'Innes 


3,067 6 9 

31832 14 





R. Stark 


703 6 5J 

1,338 7 



J. M'Innes 

t N.I. 


J. M'Tnnes 


2,889 10 4 




J. Nimmo and 

A. M'Nab ... 


357 13 7i 

1,608 1 


• Crosahoase 

Ja=?. Borrowman 


515 2 2 

1,902 2 


Ooaltown of Wemyss 

J. M'Innes ... 



673 1 





J. M'Innes 



J. Saunders ... 





Not I. 



J. M'Kinlay ... 

236 1 2 

736 19 




J. Henderson ... 


2,051 14 5 

3,689 10 




• Bast Kilbride ■ ... 

W. Bright 


Bast Wemyss 

B. Morris 



2,035" 13 



Bdinbnt^h — 

Oo-op. Society ... 

John Borrowman 

376 11 11 

2,046 19 


Western ... " ... 

John Borrowman 

189 18 li 

768 18 


St Margaret's ... 

John Borrowman 


260 0,0 




Sfc Outhbei^'s ... 

John Borrowman 

323 6 5 

1,934 13 



J. Cunningham 


323 16 9 

1,640 19 




E. Hart 



St BoUox 

J. Annandale ... 


327 10 lOi 



• Grsmgemouth 

J. Amott 

, - 




R. Tough 


2,576 10 10 




Kilmarnock , 

J. Burnett 


206 16 6f 




J. M'limes 





Lanark . .; 


North of Ei^land 

Wholesale Society 

J. 0. Edwards 


J. MiUar 







. Paisley Equitable ... 

T. Nairn and 

R. Bdmond ... 


269 2. 

1,352 14 

• •• 

. Paisley Provident ... 

T. Vance and 

B. Paterson 


628 4 2| 

1,817 6 




J. M'Innes . ... 


1,611 12 llj 

1,747 17 



John Borrowman 






• Shotts 

J. Brunton 


87 19 11 

663 12 


Not I. 


J. Morrison and 

D. M'Kechnie 



1,253 8 





J. Oibb and 

D. Cameron 







R. Finlay 






Tillicoultry Bakinj; 

B. Murray 

• •• 




J. Montgomeiy 


148 6 3 

638 11 11 



West Wemyss 

J. Brown ■ 


477 6 41 

1,193 S 




24,538 6 Sj 

63,901 14 


** In. some instances this column includes the flour baked as well as sold. 

t and marked thus (...) stand for no inlormation on these points. 

t In addition to the working capital of the Hawick Society, the members are owners of 
Writable property, valued at £1,500, which is also insured. The profits on the qusuter's sales 
amount to £340, 9s, lOJd. The capital and sales are the largest of any of the Scottish societies 
with the exception of Brechin. 


An interesting feature of the conference was the presence of 
Mr J. C. Edwards, the cashier of the North of England Society, 
in response to an invitation sent to his committee. One of the 
pleasant recollections of those days is of the ready, wilUng 
assistance which the Southern society gave to those wilUng to 
set up what, in ordinary trade, would be regarded as a rival firm. 
Co-operatoirs, however, were accustomed to give and to receive 
help of that kind in nearly all their enterprises. 
The report of the conference is as follows : — 

A meeting of delegates, representing forty of the co-operative 
societies of Scotland, was held in the Bell Hotel, Glasgow, on Saturday, 
the seventh day of April 1S66, at twelve o'clock noon. 
, Mr James Borrowman, of Crosshouse, near Kilmarnock, was 
unanimously called to the chair. Mr Borrowman, on assuming the 
chair, opened the proceedings by deUvering an eloquent address on 
the importance of co-operation, its beneficial effects, and the objects 
of the conference as regards co-operative societies. 

The Chairman afterwards called upon Mr J. C. Edwards, ot 
Manchester, cashier and manager of the North of. England Wholesale 
Indilstrial Society Limited, who attended the meeting by request, 
kindly acceded to by the directorate of that society. 

Mr Edwards gave the meeting a very succinct and graphic history 
of his society, stating the difficulties and dangers it had to contend 
with since its inauguration — ^these obstacles not alone arising from 
tlje jealousies of private wholesale houses, but also from coroperative 
societies. He also gave an amusing description of the nefarious tricks 
resorted to by the tirade in respect to butter and tea, showing that a 
co-operative society, such as he represented and such as the meeting 
contemplated establishing, had not the same incentives to delude ; 
their, customers being shareholders, adulteration could be no gain to 
them, as the profit arising in this way would be only changing the 
money from the one pocket to the other. The information given to 
the meeting was very valuable, and highly appreciated by the delegates 

The question was then, taken up as to the starting of a wholesale 
agency. Each of the delegates gave their opinion on the matter, all 
tending to be favourable, but judiciously concluding that the societies 
in Scotland were not yet in a position to maintain one. 

Mr J. Millar, of Alva, in accordance with the general tendency of 
the meeting, moved : " That the delegates impress upon the members 
of their respective societies the importance of taking shares in the 
North of England Wholesale Co-operative Society, and also the great 
necessity of giving to it the largest measure of support possible." 
The resolution was seconded by Mr J. Morrison, of Springbum, and 
unanimously adopted. 

The advantages to be secured by, and the possibility of starting 
a co-operative flour mill, were then discussed, the result being that the 
delegates were pretty unanimous in the opinion that the present state 


of the co-operative societies in Scotland did not warrant their recom- 
mending the formation of a co-operative flour mill. The question 
of a co-operative insurance society was also considered, but postponed 
till the results of the forthcoming conference on this question by the 
English societies be ascertained. 

On the question of a uniform balance-sheet, the delegates were 
unanimous that such was necessary, and the following committee 
was appointed to draw up one : — Messrs Thomas Nairn and Robert 
Paterson, Paisley, and Robert Stark and John M'Innes, Barrhead. 

What the Scottish Co-operator thought of the meeting and 
thought of the achievements of the existing Wholesale Society 
in England was indicated in an article then published. " The 
success which has already attended the mission of the North of 
England Wholesale Co-operative Society," said the editor, " is 
a cheering proof that the faith of working-men in each other 
is increasing, that the profit secured is teaching them to look 
for other and more extended schemes in which to embark their 
capital, and that co-operative efforts conducted by working-men 
for the benefit of working-men are destined to advance." That 
was the interpretation which Mr M'Innes put upon the initial 
success of what is now the " C.W.S." ; but it inspired him— 
and he inspired his readers — ^with great hopes of what might 
come to the Co-operators of the country. The decision of the 
conference, it will be remembered, was that the delegates should 
impress upon their societies the importance of taking shares in 
the North of England Wholesale Society. With characteristic 
loyalty to his constituency, then, Mr M'Innes wrote of that 
federation in his article as if it were the property of Scotland as 
well as of England ; and this is the vision of the future that pre- 
sented itself to him and which he presented to his readers : 
" Trusting in ourselves and united in our action, glorious prospects 
open up before us. A mighty federation of the stores consolidated in 
one efficient board of management [with branches spread over the 
length and breadth of the land) would tell with crushing force upon 
those reckless speculators whose capital and time are employed to 
enhance the price of the poor man's food. Clever as they are, 
they would stand aghast before a piitchasing power of eight to 
ten millions per annum ; and at the present ratio of increase, 
Co-operators in a few years will represent such a power. If we 
were only wise enough to unite our purchases, we could defy 
competition ; and with agents of our own abroad to purchase in 


the first markets, and ships of our own to traverse the world's 
highway, these speculators in food would be at an end." Although 
even to-day the present Scottish Co-operator and the Co-operative 
News find it necessary to agitate for greater Co-operative efforts 
to bring the speculators in food to an end, the movement has 
travelled a long way beyond John M'Innes's estimate of the 
amount of concentrated purchasing power required to achieve 
that purpose. The purchasing power concentrated in the 
" mighty federations " — ^not a mighty federation — had reached 
his high-water anticipation when the then unborn Scottish 
Wholesale had only come of age. It is not anticipating sub- 
sequent details to state that the two Wholesale societies were 
producing goods to the value of thirty millions per annum and 
selling goods to the value of eighty-five millions in the S.C.W.S. 
jubilee year. The speculators in food stand enraged ; but they 
have not been brought to an end yet. 

The delegates who had attended the 1866 conference had 
probably carried out the instructions given by the conference ; 
but there were serious difficulties in putting the resolution into 
practice. Some societies that have now a venerable history did 
apply the resolution — Penicuik, DunfermUne, St Cuthbert's, 
St RoUox> and Alva were among the first — but distance, as was 
pointed out at the 1865 conference, was a difficulty, especially 
as what the societies wanted most were foodstuffs. The matter 
was discussed as vigorously as ever during the whole of 1866 
and the early part of 1867. There was a general desire on the 
part of enthusiastic Co-operators to be participators in the work 
of the North of England Society ; but with the best wiU in the 
world the stores could not make good use of the society. 
London was taking steps to set up a wholesale agency ; so, too, 
was Newcastle. These districts encountered difficulties in doing 
all their trade with a Manchester depot ; and Scotland, therefore, 
could not be found fiault with if she frankly proclaimed her 
difficulties. English Co-operators did not find fault, and least 
of all did those connected with the management of the existing 
Wholesale Society. Mr Pitman, in an editorial note in the 
Co-operator (repljdng to a member of St Cuthbert's who expressed 
a desire to see Co-operation as strong in Edinburgh as it was 
in Rochdale), remarked : " Perhaps it wiU be when you have 
had equal experience. . . . Your greatest want seems to 


be a wholesale society. Never rest until you have got centra 

The question was therefore raised again at a conference held 
in Whjd:e's Hotel, Ingram Street, Glasgow, on 8th June 1867, to 
discuss (i) " the necessity of a wholesale agency in Glasgow, 
either as a branch of the North of England Wholesale 
Co-operative Society or independent of it, but purchasing from 
it as much as possible ; " and (2) " the urgent need of a com 
mill, how to raise capital for the same, and the best site." It 
was a pretty fuU programme to discuss ; but . Mr James 
Borrowman, again in the chair, carried through the proceedings 
very expeditiously. There were thirty societies represented, 
besides the North of England Society which was again repre- 
sented by Mr Edwards. Some of these societies did not send 
delegates of their own, but they authorised the secretary (Mr 
M'Innes) to act for them. Those present were John M'Innes 
representing Auchinleck, Grahamston and Bainsford, Lanark, 
Portobello, and West Wemyss societies ; J. M'Gruther, 
Bannockburn ; J. Allan and R. Stark, Barrhead ; W. Davidson, 
Bathgate; John Nimmo, Busby; H. Andrews and G. Lawrie, 
Carluke ; James Bprrowman, Crosshouse ; Thomas LesUe, 
Dalkeith ; James Anderson, Dairy Baking Society ; D. March- 
bank and R. M' Arthur, Dalziel ; J., M'Kinlay, Dumbarton; 
Joseph Henderson, DunfermUne ; AUan Scott and R. Lees, 
St Cuthbert's ; J. Whitelaw, Glasgow Eastern ; Gabriel Thomson 
and D. M'Calman, St RoUox ; George Merrylees, Kihnamock ; 
James Nairn, Kingskettle ; David Kidd, Kirkland ; W. Smith, 
Lochgelly; A. Lindsay, Montrose; R. More and D. Andrew, 
Paisley Provident ; P. M'Donald and A- Walker, Port-Glasgow.; 
James Brunton,. Shotts ; Matthew Ireland, Renfrew; and a 
delegate from Alva Society. 

The chief discussion centred round the first proposition, 
Mr John Allan, the first secretary of the S.C.W.S., has placed 
it on record that the " universal desire among the friends of 
the movement was to have a branch of the Wholesale Society 
in Manchester estabUshed in either Glasgow or Edinburgh." 
Mr Edwards, in response to this desire, e:?plained to the 
delegates, that the committee of the North of England Society 
had authorised him to state that, a branch of that society could- 
not be established, at. Glasgow as. th.ere were placps. in. England; 


that had a prior claim when the committee saw the way clear 
to establish branches. As a matter of fact; the committee had 
declined to accede to a similar request from Newcastle earher 
in the year. The English Wholesale committee also authorised 
Mr Edwards to promise that if the Scottish societies contemplated 
the formation of a wholesale society in Scotland, they could rely 
upon all the advice and assistance which the experience of the 
Enghsh Wholesale committee could render of any value to- 
them. The promise was most welcome, for the North- of England 
Society had now had more than three years' experience of the 
wholesale trade ; and the Scottish Co-operators were naturally- 
anxious to avoid mistakes into which their want of experience- 
might lead them. It was also promised that if a Scottish 
wholesale society were formed, Scottish members of the North 
of England Society would have " every facihty for the immediate- 
transfer of their shares." The way was therefore cleared for 
what might be called direct action. With the strongly expressed. 
desire of their societies, aiid with the encouragement of the 
North of England Society, the delegates agreed that if there 
was to be a Co-operative wholesale depot in Scotland, the 
Scottish societies must put it there without longer delay. The 
formal resolution, which initiated the Scottish Co-operative- 
Wholesale Society, was, accordingly, put to the meeting. Moved 
by Mr Gabriel Thomson of St Rollox Society, seconded by 
Mr Matthew Ireland of Renfrew, and carried nem. con. The 
resolution was as follows : — 

" That -this conference, con-vinced of the advantage and necessity of 
a -wholesale agency, and seeing that the North of England. Co-operative 
Wholesale Society cannot extend a branch to Scotland, hereby appoint 
a committee to diffuse information, make the necessary arrangements 
for commencing a -wholesale co-operative society in Glasgo-w, and in 
the meantime to make use of the North of England Society for the- 
supply of our -wants as shall be deemed desirable." 

The conference determined that there should be no delay, and 
the coromittee appointed comprised some noted hustlers. Mr 
James Borrowman, the chairman, was already a vigorous propa- 
gandist. He was the son of Mr John Borrowman, of Edinburgh, 
who was one of the founders of St Cuthbert's Co-operative 
Association in 1859, ^^^ i^^ S'^s* president, from 1859 till 1866. ' 
James was a stalwart of Co-operation in Ayrshire ; ' but he was' 
a virile writer, and the columns of the Co-operator and of th& 


Scottish Co-operator bore witness to his versatility and his gifts. 
John M'Innes, who, more than any other, may be venerated as 
the father of the Scottish Wholesale Society because of the 
persistent vigour with which he carried on the agitation for five 
years before his proposition materiahsed, was the secretary of 
the committee. Thomas Nairn, of Paisley, who had been 
secretary of the Provident Society, and who had lost money in 
the society's early struggles but still retained faith in Co-operative 
principles and enthusiasm for Co-operative developments, was 
a member of the committee. Richard Lees, who had been a 
member of the first committee of St Cuthbert's, its secretary 
from 1862 till 1868, a guiding spirit among the pioneers, and a 
wise counsellor in times of trial, was another member. Joseph 
Henderson, also a member of the committee, was a litterateur 
at times, but he was president of Dunfermline Society from 
1864 till 1867, and, according to the late Mr Daniel Thomson's* 
estimate, he had that breezy optimism which would be helpful 
to a committee charged with a new and serious venture. Mr 
James Cunningham, of Galston Society, and Mr John Duncan, 
of Glasgow Eastern Society, were also members of the committee 
which was to make the establishment of the S.C.W.S. an 
accomplished fact. The committee reahsed what the S.C.W.S. 
directors have fully realised in recent years — ^namely, the value 
of an advertising department. They set about advertising the 
proposed formation of a wholesale society, and a comprehensive* 
statement of the objects of the proposed federation was issued 
in a form which addressed itself to every Co-operative society 
in Scotland. The committee desired the fullest information to 
be set before the next conference, so that the conference would 
know exactly what to expect, and the result of the investigations 
so carried out was the compilation of a statement which would 
do credit to the well-financed Survey Committee of the well- 
organised Co-operative Union of to-day. Statistics of co- 
operative societies in Scotland were not pubUshed by the Registrar 
as the statistics of societies in England and Wales were. The 
Scottish Co-operator constantly urged that the Scottish Registrar 
should be compelled to furnish details of these societies, and so 
effectively did he pursue the subject that, in September 1867, 
on the motion of Mr Crum Ewing, M.P. for Paisley^ the House 
* S.C.W.S. Director, 1887-1911. 































of Commons ordered an annual return of Co-operative societies 
in Scotland similar to that provided by Mr Tidd Pratt, the English 
Registrar. Towards the end of 1867, Mr Carnegie Ritchie issued 
his first return. It dealt with the year ending December 1866, 
but it satisfied nobody particularly. The Scottish Co-operator 
described it as a " burlesque," and the English Co-operator did 
not even quote any of its figures because " though compiled on 
the authority of the law, it is the merest shadow of what it ought 
to be." Not having much help from the law, the conunittee in 
charge of the preliminary arrangements in connection with the 
establishment of the Wholesale Society had to gather its own 
statistics from the societies known to be in existence. The next 
conference was to be held at the New Year ; and the committee 
arranged that there should be a conference in Whyte's Hotel, 
Glasgow, on ist January, and a similar conference in Buchanan's 
Temperance Hotel, Edinburgh, on the following day. Forty 
societies, representing a combined membership of 9,254, with 
capital amoimting to £34,888, and with aggregate sales of 
;f258,399 per annum, sent delegates to one or other of the con- 
ferences ; some, indeed, were represented at both. This was 
encouraging ; but the committee were able to present particulars 
relating to societies in Scotland which left no doubt whatever 
in the minds of the delegates as to the wisdom of going ahead. 
We owe that committee a posthumous vote of thanks for their 
inquiries, even if they had not to run the gaimtlet of criticism 
like the present Survey Committee. Their Survey Report is 
worthy of reproduction,* as it can have been seen by very few 
Co-operators of the present generation, and it wiU prove useful 
to those who study Co-operative developments. The Registrar's 
return, pubhshed in December 1867, covered 118 societies, and 
gives only the societies, the value of property held, the average 
stock, and the profits for 1866. The first Scottish Survey Report, 
for which we have to thank John M'Innes and his committee, 
was presented on ist January 1868, and it dealt with 134 societies. 
The details given showed what a substantial nucleus of trade 
the Scottish Wholesale Society would have, presuming 
that Co-operative committees showed the same loyalty to the 
Wholesale Society that they expected their members to show 
to their local societies. The report also showed the great field 

* See Appendix II. 


that had still to be won for Co-operation ; and the two conferences 
agreed that the first wholesale establishment should be in Glasgow, 
and that, if success attended their efforts, Edinburgh was to be 
the next centre of enterprise. The conferences added to the 
members of the committee with a view to making it more repre- 
sentative, and instructed the committee to prepare rules on the 
model of the rules of the English Wholesale Society, print and 
forward copies of the rules, along with an apphcation form for 
shares, to each society in Scotland, and arrange for a delegate 
meeting to consider any suggested alteration or amendment of 
the rules, and also to elect a committee of management. The 
committee entrusted with this work comprised Mr Borrowman 
and Mr MTnnes (who still acted as chairman and secretary 
respectively) ; William Macgregor, the new president of Dimf erm- 
hne Society, had succeeded Joseph Henderson on the committee ; 
James Cimningham, of Galston, and Richard Lees, of St 
Cuthbert's, still retained their places ; Gabriel Thomson, of St 
Rollox, and Archibald M'Lean, of Govan, represented Glasgow, 
and Daniel Kay, of Alva, and John Poole, of Portobello, com- 
pleted the number. Foundations were laid immediately, and in 
May 1868 the Scottish Co-operator announced that the rules of 
the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society Ltd. were now 
registered, and would be shortly in the hands of the various 
committees throughout Scotland, along with a sheet for the 
acceptance of shares.* " In the first instance," it was explained, 
" societies with a hundred members will need only to contribute 
£5, and, in three months thereafter, the same amount, in all, £10 — 
a sum which any society presuming to do business should be able 
to raise, or to borrow from any of their members, as on this 
amount of capital the rules provide for a return of 5 per cent." 
The editor exhorted societies to reaUse the importance of joining 
up at once, and of not putting off till a later time, as that might 
be disastrous. He referred to the initial trials which had beset 
the North of England Society, but he also told how the trials and 
obstacles had been overcome by the " energy, perseverance, ability, 
and self-denial " of the management of the society. " In a truly 
Co-operative spirit," he concluded, " the directors of the North of 
England Society have kindly offered to instruct us by giving us 
the benefit of their experiences in management and in bujdng." 
* See Appendix V. 


Such is the record of the development of the seed of wholesale 
Co-operation in Scotland. When the next meeting was held, 
the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society Ltd. was in existence. 
That momentous meeting was to begin the business of the 
society ; and the committee, who had prosecuted their labours 
so successfully, were to hand over the reins of power and the 
burden of responsibihty to the first board of management. AU 
did not give up their labours ; some were given new duties in 
connection with " the Wholesale " ; but as a provisional com- 
mittee their task was accomplished, and we may give them their 
vote of thanks here. It had taken them five years to carry out 
their project — five years when travelling facihties were imperfect, 
when the experience that working-men had of business methods 
was not extensive but perhaps lacking, and when the promoters 
of the new society were drawn from places far apart. Their job 
took them long, but they did it well ; and their own reward was 
little more than the " clean, clear joy of creation." 

The Scottish Wholesale Society was not the only thing they 
created during those five years." The conferences that were held 
also made easy the formation of the Scottish Section of the 
Co-operative Union. Similar conferences were being held 
periodically in England, and these, with the Scottish conferences, 
led to the estabhshment of the Central Co-operative Board, 
which eventually became the Co-operative Union of Great 
Britain. As was eminently fitting, James Borrowman and John 
M'Innes were the first Scottish representatives on that board. 
Nor did that exhaust their good work. The conferences conduced 
to a fellowship which might never have been created but for the 
engrossing business that brought delegates from various parts 
of the country together. They gave rise to frequent and regular 
correspondence between societies ; they stimulated Co-operative 
thought, fired Co-operative ambitions, created an interest in 
Co-operation among those who were not Co-operators, and they 
led to a considerable increase in the number of members and in 
the number of societies, even before the S.C.W.S. finally took 
shape. So much was this the case that Mr Carnegie Ritchie, the 
Scottish Registrar, reported in 1867 that these Co-operative 
societies were increasing very largely, and that he had received 
a letter from a gentleman in whose neighbourhood a store had 
been established. " Since the formation of the society," the 


gentleman wrote, "the aspect of the neighbourhood has been 
quite changed." He added that " the people were given to 
drunkenness, but now, there being no spirits allowed in the store, 
they, in place of spending their money in intoxicating liquor, 
are providing for their famihes respectably and are able to help 
their sick." Other gentlemen had written him who were anxious 
to see similar societies formed in their neighbourhood. The 
spread of such societies was hastened by the energies of those 
who set about the formation of the Scottish Wholesale Society ; 
but the great organisation of their creation was hke a great 
potent fertiliser on the soil they had prepared. 










When the delegates from societies met in Whjrte's Temperance 
Hotel, Glasgow, on ist August 1868, there were forty-three 
present representing thirty-three_ societies. Mr Maxwell has 
published Mr M'Innes's list with details of the trade of each 
society. It will serve our purpose to place on record the names 
of the societies and their representatives. As before, Mr M'Innes 
acted as the accredited delegate for several societies that could 
not be represented by delegates specially sent. One of the 
societies which appointed him as a delegate was the Thurso 
Society which had only been formed eighteen months before, 
and which was most enthusiastic for the establishment of the 
Wholesale Society. Like others concerned in the project, it 
contributed one farthing per member towards the expenses of 
the committee promoting the scheme. Other societies repre- 
sented by Mr M'Innes were Kirkland and Penicuik. The list 
of other societies and delegates is as follows : — ^Alexandria, 
James Burnett and James MTntyre ; Alva, Daniel Kay ; 
Barrhead, A. Johnstone and John Allan ; Bannockburn, 
Alexander Meldrum and J. M'Gruther ; Bo'ness, J. Ramsay ; 
Carluke, ■ — Hunter ; Cathcaet, William Shirlaw ; Catrine, 
Wilham Murray ; Crosshouse, James Borrowman and John 
Murdoch ; Dalziel, William Paul ; Dunfermline, William 
M'Gregor and John Spence ; St Cuthbert's (Edinburgh), 
Richard Lees and R. Scott ; St Rollox (Glasgow), F. Maxwell 


and Gabriel Thomson ; South Eastern (Glasgow), W. Robertson ; 
Anderston (Glasgow), H. Fitzpatrick and J. M'Donald ; 
Galston, James Cunningham ; Govan, Archibald M'Lean ; 
Grahamston and Bainsford, John Logan and John Morrison ; 
Kilmarnock Baking, Alexander Hunter ; Kilmarnock, F. Bain, 
J. Weir, G. Merrylees ; Lochgelly, William Smith ; Mauchline 
(delegate unknown) ; Newmilns, Alexander Dykes ; Port- 
Glasgow, John Duguid ; Paisley Equitable, J. Thompson 
and John Alexander ; Portobello, J. Poole ; Shotts, James 
Brunton ; Tillicoultry, Robert Finlay ; Troon, William Neil ; 
and Thornliebank, John Gibb. 

When that meeting assembled, it must have been with a 
singular thrill that the chairman, James Borrowman, opened 
the proceedings. A big task had been undertaken by him and 
his committee. The delegates were there watchful, hopefiil, 
eager, but with some httle share of the feehng of those about 
to embark upon some big adventure. These men — the com- 
mittee and the delegates — ^were not very seriously concerned 
about what their societies would have to invest in the undertaking, 
although that was not a matter which they discussed Hghtly, 
for their own savings constituted part of their societies' capital. 
Their chief concern was for the future. The decade which was 
nearing its close was one of very considerable hardship. The 
American Civil War and its industrial disorganisation had given 
the decade an inauspicious opening, and the fresh wars on the 
Continent added to the distress. Further disorganisation and 
hardship had been caused by the London financial panic which 
followed Overend & Gumey's failure. From these causes there 
was considerable anxiety in the minds of the working people, 
which was faithfully reflected in those representative men and 
women gathered in Whyte's Hotel. They were perhaps unable 
to reason out theories of action and reaction ; but they were, 
nevertheless, fully capable of recognising what it meant to them 
that the cost of hving, which had fallen somewhat after the 
American Civil War, rose again when the Continental wars of 
1866 were at their height. Their thoughts, then, at that 
meeting in August 1868 were of the future. They believed 
that, on paper, the formation of a Co-operative Wholesale 
Society for Scotland would be a great boon. They had visions 
of a great organisation spreading its roots ever5w'here ; reducing 


the cost of living, improving wages, shortening the working day, 
sweetening the lot of the toiler ; but the future they saw may 
have seemed too bright. In their minds the faint glimmer of 
fear hngered. They had seen Co-operative societies go to 
pieces : Had it not happened to the society which had been 
chiefly responsible for calling the first conference in 1864 to 
consider the project that was to materialise that day ? What, 
after all, if their hopes proved vain ? If this big tower of 
strength which they hoped to build went to pieces, with its 
promises unfulfilled, and bringing despair and ruin upon the 
workers whose money was involved, what then ? 

We respect those men for their fears ; but we would scarcely 
have forgiven them if they had allowed those fears to overpower 
them. They had Faith, and that faith removed the mountain 
of doubt. The chairman and his committee knew their 
responsibiUties. As they faced that meeting there burned into 
their minds the hopes they had held out when they made their 
appeal to the httle Co-operative world to adopt the policy of 
estabhshing a wholesale society. Now that the first steps were 
taken, and the delegates had assembled to launch the new 
venture, these committeemen — and the chairman and secretary 
who had been the chief apostles of it — must have felt hke a 
newly constituted Cabinet in which the country has declared 
its confidence and which had reached the stage of redeeming 
its pledges by definite action. Trying to picture that meeting, 
in the hght of our personal and intimate recollection of more 
than fifty meetings of the Wholesale Society, we see in it some 
of the commendable features of the S.C.W.S. meetings of to-day. 
It was not called a Wholesale meeting ; it was only a delegate 
meeting ; but the S.C.W.S. had been constituted and the 
delegates were there to set about the practical business. 
Borrowman and M'Innes ! They were excellent officers. They 
did what the presidents and secretaries of the Wholesale Society 
whom we have known have made an invariable practice — they 
anticipated questions and difficulties that would arise — and they 
were ready to answer, if not to satisfy, the delegates upon all 
points. These two officials initiated the now common practice 
of the EngHsh and Scottish Wholesale Societies, which always 
consult one another in their difficulties. The chairman and 
secretary had visited the estabhshment of the North of England 


Society. They had seen through its premises, investigated its 
methods, and been enlightened by the officials at Manchester, 
who had none of the fears that the managers of a profit-seeking 
firm would have had over the inauguration of a similar concern 
to their own preparing to do business which they might have 
undertaken. These emissaries had learned a good deal, and 
their acquired knowledge was to be used, not for selfish purposes, 
and not only for the good of the Co-operators of Scotland, but 
— as the Co-operative societies were open to all upon equal 
terms — for the good of the whole populace. They were 
encouraged by what they had seen, and these two, at any rate, 
looked forward to the Scottish venture with considerable con- 
fidence. The forty-one other delegates present were, in turn, 
stimulated by the reports submitted by the chairman who, on 
an analysis of the trade done, saw ahead the day when the 
Wholesale would be running its own flour mills' conducting its 
own sugar refinery, and its own tobacco and soap factories. 

The rules that had already been drafted by the committee 
were submitted for final adoption, and after being amended 
they were approved. They provided that the value of the 
share should be £25 each — an advance on the original proposal 
that they should be £10 — and they were withdrawable. The 
withdrawable shares were a source of weakness from the 
beginning. The delegates were chiefly concerned about securing 
for the societies a ready means of obtaining their money if they 
wanted it ; and it was thought that some societies would 
remain outside the " Wholesale " rather than lock up money 
which they would not be able to get when it was needed. From 
that point of view the withdrawable shares seemed preferable ; 
but capital so provided would have made it impossible for the 
Wholesale Society to engage in wholesale business successfully. 
That was not fully realised by everybody at the time, and it 
was, therefore, on a foundation of withdrawable shares that 
the great business. began. 

The first board of directors, or, in the language of the period, 
" the committee," was appointed at that meeting. James 
Borrowman, it was decided, should be general manager and 
cashier. It was a tribute to his work and to his displayed and 
proved abiUty. Before very long the members regretted that 
he had not been left as chairman of the directors. That opens 


up a story which will come at its proper place ; but his appoint- 
ment as manager necessitated the election of a new chairman, 
and the choice feU upon Mr George Merrylees, one of the 
Kilmarnock delegates. Mr John Allan, of Barrhead, was 
elected secretary, and Mr Gabriel Thomson, of St Rollox, was 
elected treasurer ; the other directors being Messrs John Hall, 
Portobello ; Daniel Kay, Alva ; William Smith, Lochgelly ; 
A. Meldruni, Bannockbum ; George Doddsj Penicuik ; and 
Richard Lees, St Cuthbert's. The auditors appointed were 
Archibald M'Lean (Govan Equitable) and James Inghs (Paisley 

The societies so represented in the management committee 
had aU given evidence of their zeal for the propagation of 
wholesale Co-operation ; and, with the apparent exception of 
Bannockburnand Portobello, they were all purchasers from the 
North of England Society. As has been recorded earlier, 
delegate meetings had recommended the societies in Scotland 
to purchase goods, when they could, from that society. The 
recommendation was not very extensively carried out ; but 
some societies had acted upon it, and Edinburgh seems to have 
led in this. 

The " board " lost no time in getting to work. Within a 
month they had secured premises at 15 Madeira Court, Glasgow. 
The Court does not exist now. The railway has obliterated 
many interesting landmarks, and the present, generation of 
Co-operators would have been ready to make a pilgrimage of 
thanksgiving to Madeira Court to commemorate the S.C.W.S. 
Jubilee had it not been that it has had to give place to the 
Caledonian Railway Company's extension at Argyle Street. 
The Court was entered by a " wide-pend," which, if it still 
remained, would be under the west end of the railway bridge 
on the south side of Argyle Street, nearly opposite the end of 
Hope Street. The Court was a veritable hive of industry. No 
fewer than thirty-five firms were located in the Court. They 
comprised brewers, commission agents, produce merchants, 
muslin and print manufacturers, hatters, bonnet makers, tea 
merchants, wholesale grocers, confectionery manufacturers, and 
others. At No. 15 there were four other "firms " besides the 
S.C.W.S. The " Wholesale Co-operative " probably counted for 
very little in the eyes of the prosperous manufacturers and com- 


mission agents who had their establishments there. Some of the 
" Wholesale's " old neighbours would Uke it less to-day ; but 
then the S.C.W.S. millions had not arrived, and its neighbours 
probably did not regard it as a cpncem that was Ukely to set 
the heather on fire. They miscalculated. The place was 
economically equipped, and the business was inaugurated. It 
was probably the only estabhshment set up by the S.C.W.S. 
without the help and guidance of Mr Robert Macintosh, and 
that fact alone should make Madeira Court unique in the records 
of the Society. Mr Borrowman was an organiser with a good 
deal of shrewdness ; but he could not manage without an expert 
grocery and provision buyer, and the committee were seriously 
exercised about the selection of a capable man for the post, for 
they recognised that upon their choice depended whether 
wholesale Co-operation would have a chance to succeed. A 
mistaken choice might shatter the hopes of the hard working 
men and women who placed so much reUance in the principle 
of Co-operation, and might do the whole movement incalculable 
harm. It was a contingency that did not arise, for the committee 
made an excellent selection in Mr James Marshall. What were 
his credentials ? He was a native of Tillicoultry, where a 
Co-operative society had been estabhshed when he was sixteen 
years of age. He was an acting secretary of the society although 
apprenticed to the grocery trade there ; and it may be mentioned, 
also, that it was at the express wish of the manager of the Society 
that he did enter the service. He did such excellent service 
there that, when the Alva Bazaar Society was in the reverse of 
a prosperous condition, the S.O.S. signal was sent to Tilhcoultry 
and Mr Marshall was pressed to become salesman at Alva. He 
pulled the society round, and put it on the straight road to the 
prosperity it now enjoys. Those who remember James Marshall 
in his later years know that he never lost the virtues which he 
possessed in the early years of his Co-operative service in the 
HiUfoots district. He was a capable business man ; he knew 
his job ; he was never a man who regarded the business as the 
property of someone else. Painstaking and conscientious in 
the extreme, he was as scrupulously attentive to his work as if 
the business of the Alva Society or the TiUicoultry Society was 
his own. He was trusted by the people of the Hillfoots as few 
men are'^trusted, and he was respected to the highest degree by 



those who did business with the society either as sellers or as 
purchasers. These were the merits that commended him to the 
committee of the S.C.W.S., and which brought him into the 
service which he adorned for thirty-four years. 

We are indebted to the secretary of the C.W.S., Mr T. Brodrick, 
for the following list of the Scottish societies that had trading 
relations with the C.W.S. at this time : — 

• Began 

Trading with 

E. C.W.S. 

• Ceased 

Tradinar witli 


* Became 
Member of 

• Membership 




jBdinbro' (Fountainbridi^e) . 

Busby '. 

■(■Bdmbro' (Gilbert Street) .... 

tEdinbro' (Grove Street) 

tEdinbro' (St Outhbert's) .... 










East Kilbride 

Glasgow (St EoUox) 

Glasgow (Springbank Bead) 


West Wemyss 




Paisley Equitable 

Paisley Provident 









Johnstone Flax Mill 


25th April 1865 

24th April 
24th Oct. 
24th April 


10th April 1869 

23rd Oct. 1866 

23rd Oct. 
13th April 


12th Oct. 1867 

11th Jan. 1868 
11th April 1868 
10th Oct. 1868 









23rd Oct. 1866 

13th April 1867 
23rd Oct. 1866 

13th April 1867 

12th Oct. 1867 

9th Oct. 
.Sth Jan, 

9th July 1870 

12th Oct. 1867 

10th Oct. 1868 
12th Oct. 1867 
11th July 1868 

9th Jan. 1869 

9th Jan 




* The dates in these columns are the dates of the quarter or half-year's closing 
t J It appears that these entries refer to only two Edinburgh societies. 

Mr Borrowman settled down to do the whole of the business 
of the S. C.W.S. with a staff scarcely larger in numbers than 
that required in the telephone room at Morrison Street to-day. 
He and Mr Marshall, with three or four dispatch men and an 
office boy, sufficed. The first cash book records that the first 
payment made for goods was to a Union Street firm for a supply 
of butter. St Rollox Society, whose representative moved the 
formal resolution which established the society, had the honour 


pi being the first society to which payment for a sale is credited. 
Mr John Allan, the secretary, reviewing the beginning a few 
years later, spoke of the suspicion with which the new concern 
was regarded by some of its interested rivals. Commercial 
travellers, he said, seemed shy about visiting the Society, and 
there were incidents of an unpleasant nature in connection with 
orders sent to merchants which (to quote Mr AUan) showed a 
suspicion " that this new Wholesale house, with the uncommon 
designation, had a relationship to what is termed the ' Long 
Firm.' " If it took commercial travellers some little time to 
accustom themselves to the S.C.W.S., it also took the buyers 
for retail Co-operative societies some Uttle time. They knew 
the Wholesale Society was established for them, and that it was 
financed by their societies, and that they ought to purchase 
what they could purchase from it. At the same time, there were 
trade friendships estabhshed here and there which some 
Co-operators were reluctant to break because it seemed unkind. 
The trade was not so large as the promoters of the Wholesale 
had expected. The Survey Report for 1867, already referred 
to*, showed that the trade of the Scottish societies exceeded 
;£8oo,ooo per annum. That had given great hopes to the S.C.W.S. 
committee. They knew quite well that they could not hope to 
get the whole of the trade of these societies ; for the Wholesale 
was dealing in little but groceries and provisions, some Alloa 
yam, and a few other odds and ends ; and even had their ware- 
house provided for everything, it would have been next to 
impossible to undertake extensive trade with some of the more 
remote societies in certain classes of goods which the societies 
regarded as local produce. However, there were forty societies 
represented at the meetings held in Glasgow and Edinburgh in 
January 1868 when the committee were directed to proceed 
with the estabhshment of the Wholesale. The committee 
naturally looked to those societies, but there were only thirty 
societies represented at the meeting in the following August ; 
and when the first quarterly reportf of the committee was com- 
pleted, it was seen that out of the forty societies that had agreed 
to establish the Wholesale Society, and out of the 134 societies 
in Scotland, only twenty-eight had become shareholders or 
members. Whatever total turnover the committee expected, 
* See Appendix II. f See Appendix VI. 


the actual sales were somewhat disappointing, for the quarter's 
trade was only £9,697. An analysis prepared for the S.C.W.S. 
Majority Celebration showed that these figures represented the 
purchases of fifty-six societies including the twenty-eight share- 
holders ; and that of the £9,697, £7,900 represented the 
purchases of the shareholders, whose total investments amounted 
to £1,795. These investments included, besides share capital, 
loan capital advanced by Kilmarnock, Alva, Barrhead, and 
Bannockbum societies. The analysis showed that the share- 
holding societies represented roughly about one-fifth of the 
total membership of local societies in Scotland ; they had share 
capital amounting to about £18,000, and their total sales were 
£38,000. Viewed in the light of that analysis, the pioneer 
societies were creditably loyal to the new Wholesale Society. 
These societies were Crosshouse, Kilmarnock, Tillicoultry, Alva, 
Newmilns, St RoUox, Barrhead, Galston, Govan, Bo'ness, 
Menstrie, Cathcart, Bannockbum, Thurso, Portobello, St 
Cuthbert's, Penicuik, Lochgelly, Paisley Provident, Paisley 
Equitable, Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Thomliebank, Port- 
Glasgow, Dalziel, Troon, and Dunfermline. 

The net profit shown on the quarter's trading amounted only 
to £48, I2s. lojd., after allowing the fixed rate of interest on 
capital, and depreciating fixtures by £9, 17s. The £48, 12s. lojd. 
might have gone in dividends on the purchases made by the 
members ; but the committee and the members agreed to set 
it aside to inaugurate a reserve fund. It was the first contribu- 
tion to a fund that had well exceeded half a million* before the 
Society's fiftieth anniversary was reached. The members, at the 
quarterly meeting on 2nd January 1869, also estabUshed the 
prinpiple of a fixed contribution, in proportion to profits, to this 
reserve fund which they had established. When they reviewed 
the quarter's business in all its aspects, they felt satisfied on the 
whole, and felt impelled to go ahead. Bigger schemes were 
hinted at in the way of Co-operative enterprise, and, if these 
were not ultimately carried out as then suggested, their purpose 
was largely attained by other means, under Co-operative 
auspices, in later years. Three months later, when the second 
quarterly report appeared, the directors congratulated the 
members " on the rapidly increasing business done " ; they 
* With the Insurance Funds added the Reserve Fund exceeds a million. 


also noted with pleasure " as an omen of future expansion," 
the increasing number of purchasing societies, as well as " the 
intelligent interest evinced by many members." The sales, 
which averaged ;fi,200 per week in the first quarter, had risen 
to fully £1,500 per week, the total for the accounting period 
being £15,592, on which, after paying working expenses, there 
was a profit of £157, i6s. That the committee recommended 
should be allocated as follows : — Dividend on purchases, £118, 4s.; 
reserve fund, £8, 12s. ; depreciation of fixed stock, £31. This 
was satisfactory, but the committee told the members that 
" they could not shut their eyes to the fact that there is still 
ample room for improvement." The steady tale of increases, 
to which readers of Wholesale balance-sheets are accustomed, 
had begun ; but the most gratif jang increase was in the number 
of purchasing societies, the fifty-six of the first quarter having 
become eighty-three in the second. Ten more societies were 
added to the roll of customers in the third quarter, when the sales 
mounted up to £17,688, and there was £260 available for 
dividend. The committee, who evidently provided the formula 
for successive committees, thought it wise to draw the attention 
of delegates to the fact that " your business would be greatly 
and profitably extended if retail societies would see it to be their 
duty (as it is their true interest) to purchase exclusively through 
this agency." When Lord Macaulay's traveller from New 
Zealand shall take his stand upon a broken arch of London 
Bridge to sketch the ruins of St Paul's, Co-operative committees 
will still be found adjuring their members that it is their duty, 
as it is their interest, to purchase exclusively through the societies 
they themselves have established — unless, indeed, which is far 
from impossible, the Co-operative Commonwealth has ere then 
arrived. It is the Uttle improvement constantly advocated, 
constantly efiEected, that has brought about the remarkable 
growth of the Co-operative movement. Nothing seemed too 
little to note in those early days ; nothing seems too little to 
note in these prosperous days. In that third quarterly report 
of a concern intended to revolutionise the distribution and 
production of goods, it was thought of sufficient importance to 
mention that arrangements had been made for supplies of Cork 
and Kiel butter and of Gouda cheese. The fourth quarter 
showed a continued record of progress, and, when the end of 


1869 was reached and the members of the Wholesale reviewed 
their first complete calendar year's efforts, they were gratified 
with a turnover of £81,094, 2s. 6d. (£90,791, 9s. yd. from the 
beginning of the society), which yielded £1,303, 15s., adding 
£63, 9s. iid. to the reserve fund, and depreciating the fixed stock 
by £129, 2s. 2d. The total capital invested in the Society was 


The path to progress seemed to be cleared. Before other six 
months had passed Robert Macintosh was engaged as a clerk. 
His appointment dates from April 1870. In April 1920 Mr 
Macintosh will attain the jubilee of his service with the Wholesale. 
The writer has already pointed out, in an article in the Interna- 
tional Co-operative Bulletin, how the Wholesale Society has 
benefited during the war by having had in its service experienced 
ofiicials, who have carried the Society through the stress of war 
crises before. This veteran of the service, who still keeps his 
finger on the Wholesale Society's great calculating machinery, 
was at his desk in the old office in Madeira Court three months 
before that fateful July day when the Franco-Prussian War 
broke out with the suddenness of a thunderstorm, and we may 
add that he has had his hand on the first set of books used by 
every department of the Wholesale estabUshed since then^ 
Other personal interests may be mentioned here to preserve the 
chronology of our history. John Alexander, of Paisley, had 
become an auditor in 1869, and held the of&ce till 1902. Two 
years later, in 1871, the president of the Society retired. Mr 
Merrylees was one of a group of sturdy Kilmarnock Co-operators. 
He had taken a leading part in the propaganda which led to the 
establishment of the Wholesale, and his term of presidency was 
one of dififtculty, as the piloting of a new organisation must 
always be when it is manned by conscientious of&cials. Mr 
Merrylees discharged his duties with much acceptance, and his 
retirement from the chair was much regretted by his colleagues 
and by the delegates over whose deliberations he presided at 
the quarterly meetings. On giving up his post he went to 
Gloucester, where he devoted his energies to politics under the 
Liberal banner. In 1881 he was appointed works manager for 
the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Waggon Company, but in 
1892 he resigned, and entered into business on his own account. 
Vigorous till the last, he was on his way home from a Liberal 


gathering in October 1908 when he was knocked down by a 
cyclist and slightly injured ; but the shock proved too much for 
the man of seventy-three, and he died before help reached him. 

One notable innovation in 1870 cannot be ignored. The very 
earhest Co-operators, whose efforts in Scotland have been 
recorded, had set their minds upon improving the conditions 
of labour. It was with that end in view that they contemplated 
" employing themselves." Consideration for their employees 
was a distinguishing characteristic of Co-operative societies, 
not only in Scotland but in England also. The view of the 
Co-operative society was that there must be something in the 
Co-operative service to raise it above the level of other employ- 
ment, and it was with that end in view that the S.C.W.S., in 
October 1870, decided that all employees should be paid a bonus 
on wages at a rate double the rate of dividend on purchases. It 
was a boon to the employees if viewed only as a financial advan- 
tage ; but it recognised that the worker, as well as the purchaser, 
contributed to the success of the business, and was entitled to 
share in the profits. The bonus had been paid by some, though 
not all, societies, and, even in this early form adopted by the 
Wholesale Society, it was very much appreciated by the 
employees, and it served a useful purpose. The system had its 
critics ; but ideaUsm prevailed for many years. 

The employees were few in number, and that, perhaps, made 
the inauguration of a profit-sharing scheme a matter of less 
difficulty than it would have been in later years. The numbers 
were growing nevertheless. The success of the first two years 
begat success. Additional purchasers and additional members 
were attracted, and each succeeding quarter saw an increase 
in the sales. The comnuttee, who were mildly jubilant over 
their turnover of ;f8i,ooo in 1869, s%w a total of £105,000 
recorded for the following year ; 1871 brought an increase of 
over £50,000, and 1872 yielded a total turnover of over a quarter 
of a million. The figure almost overwhelmed the committee. 
The warehouse was hopelessly inadequate, and a site was 
purchased in Paisley Road in May 1872. This site, extending 
to 1,437 square yards, and costing £5,031, i6s. 5d., was the 
nucleus of the wonderful aggregation of land and property now 
owned in the Kingston district of Glasgow. While these pre- 
Uminary steps were taken — and the expenditure of £5,000 on 





(1) E. Ross, Grocei-y Buyer ; appointed to the Staff in 1872 as Assistant to James Marshall. 

(2) D. Gardiner; entered the Service in 1873 when the Society commenced the Drapery trade. 
<3) A. Gray ; Director in 1873, and Secretary in 1874, when he was appointed Cashier. 

<4) W. F. Stewart ; Director, 1S71 ; Manager of Leith Branch, 1877 ; Commercial Manager of 
Flour Mills since 1894. 


land was no small matter to a Society which at that time had 
less than ^30,000 of capital aU told — other provisions had to 
be made to meet the increasing trade. Mr Marshall was finding 
his duties as buyer too much for him and an assistant had to 
be provided. The committee, on the advice of Mr Marshall, 
appointed Mr Ebenezer Ross, who was also the son of a 
TilUcoultry Co-operator, and who had given his services to 
Co-operation in the Hillfoots. Mr Ross, then young, devoted 
to his task, cooped up for a considerable part of his time in 
the dingy quarters in Madeira Court, is now the presiding genius 
in one of the most palatial grocery estabUshments in Glasgow, 
owned by the same Society which then called him to the 
service of the Co-operators of Scotland. 

The committee's chief concern for nearly a year was the 
building of the new warehouse. Plans were prepared by Mr 
John Spence, architect, Renfield Street, Glasgow, and a building 
was erected to which Co-operators of that period applied such 
descriptions as " extensive and substantial," " commodious," 
" imposing and pleasant looking." Co-operative readers who 
ponder over these adjectives and identify the building as the 
eastern block of the group which occupies the triangular site 
bounded by Dundas Street, Paisley Road, and Morrison Street, 
will realise from what small beginnings the S.C.W.S. as they 
know it has come. It is reckoned as of no value, according to 
the present-day balance-sheets of the Society ; but it repre- 
sented an enormous part of the assets of the pioneers. Its 
opening, on Friday, 19th September 1873, was the occasion for 
the first of many festivals held under the auspices of the 
S.C.W.S. A great gathering of 400 representative Co-operators 
assembled for dinner in the afternoon in the upper part of the 
warehouse. Around the walls of the warehouse were displayed 
specimens of the products of some of the existing Co-operative 
manufacturing societies for which the Wholesale Society acted 
as agents. The Piaisley Co-operative Manufacturing Society 
figured among the exhibitors. It is the only exhibiting society 
that has survived the ravages of time, and already negotiations 
have been set on foot by the Wholesale Society for the transfer 
of the Paisley Manufacturing business to the S.C.W.S. It is 
of interest to recall that the other societies concerned in the 
exhibition were the Auchtermuchty Manufacturing Society, 


which was formed in 1862 to provide constant employment for 
the handloom weavers ; the Hawick Hosiery Company, formed 
in 1872 as a means of putting an end to a strike ; the Dunfermline 
Manufacturing Society, brought into existence by reason of 
the success of the DunfermUne Co-operative Distributive Society ; 
the Lurgan Damask, Linen, and Handkerchief Manufacturing 
Society, estabhshed on the collapse of a tfade union and twice 
saved from collapsing itself by the exertions of the Wholesale 
Societies of England and Scotland ; the Eccles and Patricroft 
Society, which was also the creation of a group of handloom 
weavers. Other societies which showed specimens of their 
work — societies in which Scottish Co-operators were afterwards 
to have a more intimate concern— were the Scottish Ironworks 
Company and the Glasgow Co-operative Cooperage Company. 

The gathering on that occasion was a memorable one. Doing 
the honours were the chairman, Mr Alexander Meldnmi ; the 
secretary, Mr John Allan ; the treasurer, Mr G. Thomson ; and 
the directors of the Society — Messrs J. Stevenson, Kilmarnock ; 
George Bell, AUoa ; J. Douglas, Auchterarder ; J. Jack, Vale 
of Leven ; WiUiam Brown, LochgeUy ; Walter Swan, Bathgate ; 
James Scotland, Perth ; J. Murphy, Lanark ; and P. M'Shane, 
Johnstone. Present also on the platform were " the salesmen," 
Messrs Marshall and Ross. Delegates were present from the 
societies interested in the Wholesale Society in Scotland, and 
it will no doubt delight Co-operative guildswomen to know 
that the company included ladies; but there were, besides, 
quite a number of distinguished Co-operators from England. 
Among these notables were G. J. Holyoake, Lloyd Jones, James 
Crabtree (the president of the C.W.S., Manchester), William 
Nutt^U (the secretary of the Co-operative Congress), James 
Howell (ex-secretary of the Reform League), and others ; while 
messages expressing regret for absence, and good will for the 
new venture, were received from W. Morrison, M.P., ; Thomas 
Hughes, M.P. ; Auberon Herbert, M.P. ; G. Anderson, M.P. ; 
and J. M. Ludlow. The chairman expressed what he believed 
to be the view of all present when he said that the new 
warehouse was " a noble monument of the past success of the 
Society." Notwithstanding that, he urged the societies in 
Scotland to rise to a more complete appreciation of the useful- 
ness of the Wholesale. " Supposing," he said, " some benevolent 


gentleman had contributed money or built his warehouse for 
the purpose of supplying goods to the working-classes at 
wholesale prices ; would he not have been called a great 
philanthropist ? And would he not have deserved the title ? " 
In that opening speech Mr Meldrum, who is still ahve and 
resident among his friends in Scotland, laid down in a single 
sentence the whole Co-operative creed when he said : "I hold 
that the working people should never depend upon any rich 
man to help them." As showing what the president of the 
Wholesale Society thought of the industrial position in those 
days, let us quote one point from Mr Meldrum's interesting 
speech — ^interesting even after the lapse of forty-eight years, 
for the same doctrine is still being preached. The passage is 
this : " Permit me to say one word regarding my opinions to 
trade unions, and particularly , . . the miners. Instead 
of their hoarding up their money . . . and strugghng with 
the owners of coal pits . . . working men who believe 
themselves to be slaves can, by means of Co-operation, make 
themselves free by becoming their own employers." It is a 
call to the trade unions that Co-operators have been making 
with renewed sincerity especially during recent years. Mr 
John Allan's contribution to the oratory of that afternoon was 
not intended to be a sermon to the converted. It was a plain 
narrative — ^Mr John Allan was always practical — of what the 
Wholesale Society had done and could do if Co-operators in 
Scotland fuUy realised the power of coUectivist effort. The 
president of the Wholesale Society of Manchester paid warm 
tribute to the Co-operators of Scotland for the "very, rapid 
progress " that had already been made by their Wholesale 
federation. The afternoon's proceedings were also rendered 
interesting because of the brief exposition of the Co-operative 
sentiment, or Co-operative view, contained in the speech 
deHvered by Mr Holyoake. " What Co-operation sought to 
establish in the world was not benevolence — not humanitarianism 
— but equity." Another very definite lead given to Co-operation 
at that gathering was in the speech of Dr. Rutherford, of 
Newcastle, chairman of the Ouseburn Engine Works — a. 
Co-operative venture — ^who, describing the needs of the people, 
the number of mouths to be filled, the quantity of foods that 
had to be brought from overseas, said : " I do not see why 


there should not be Co-operative ships, sailors, and engines. 
Shipping is a profitable thing, and yields 20 and 15 per cent. 
I know of one boat which has yielded 30 per cent, on one voyage 
alone. As Co-operation contributes to these profits by its 
merchant trade, I do not see why it should not participate in 
the profit. We must take courage, be earnest and united, and 
if in combination with these we show other characteristics, 
Co-operktive societies will become stronger, and form a Hnk 
between conflicting interests." With the problems of the war 
period still weighing upon the nation, and upon no part of the 
■nation more heavily than upon the working masses, it seems 
as if Dr. Rutherford stiU addresses, to the Co-operative world, 
words of counsel which compel attention. 

The afternoon's gathering was followed by a great meeting 
in the evening, when the City Hall w'as filled, under the 
presidency of Provost Bennet, of Dumbarton, who was then 
president of the Scottish Co-operative Iron Works. It was a 
great propaganda gathering. Three resolutions were submitted 
to that meeting, by those who had spoken earUer in the day, 
which placed on record the Co-operative view of the social 
problem and the remedy. Those resolutions were : — 

(1) " That the concurrent increase of wealth and growth of 
poverty in Great Britain is an anomaly disgraceful to civilisation 
and dangerous to the welfare of the country ; and that the Co-opera- 
tive system in aiming at securing integrity and economy in the 
business of distribution is capable of bringing about a more equitable 
diffusion of the rapidly increasing wealth of the nation." 

(2) " That in the opinion of this meeting the efforts made by the 
various co-operative societies throughout the Kingdom to harmonise 
the interests of capital and labour by promoting co-operative pro- 
duction and partnership of industry are well calculated to correct 
the antagonisms arising from the present relationship of the employer 
and the employed." 

(3) " That this meeting recognises in Co-operation the most 
effective means of permanently raising the condition of the people." 

We give these resolutions in full because they will focus the 
attention of readers on the first declarations of the Scottish 
Wholesale Society to the public outside the stores of Scotland. 
They show that, while the phght of the people is somewhat 
improved in the present age by the effects of Co-operation, 
problems which confront the masses to-day were problems then. 
The Co-operative movement has from its inception been faced 


with the problems caused by the inequitable distribution of 
wealth. Mr Lloyd Jones pointed out, in moving the first 
resolution, that in the closing years of the eighteenth century 
the machinery of the country had a productive capacity equal 
to that of three miUion men ; and that in 1873, by various 
inventions and the multipUcation of machinery, the mechanical 
productive power was equal to that of 1,000 miUion men ; yet 
at the latter period there were as many paupers in the country 
as at the former. In other words, he explained, the development 
of mechanical power, of the production of wealth, had made the 
rich richer and the poor poorer. The Scottish Co-operative 
Wholesale Society was one of the instruments chosen by the 
people to change this. During its first five years the S.C.W.S. 
made strides in that direction. It sought to give the people 
some control over these wealth-creating devices so that the 
wealth they created might be at the service of the people. Mr 
John Allan's summary of its efforts meant that the Wholesale, 
in carrying out that idea, hkd invested its money in the Paisley 
Co-operative Manufacturing Society, in the Glasgow Cooperage, 
and in the Oak Mill Company, thus helping these " labour 
elevating institutions." It had also become the agent for the 
principal Co-operative manufkcturing societies in the kingdom. 
It had been during those five years the centre of Co-operative 
inquiry, Co-operative aspirations, and Co-operative active 
exertion. It had helped other societies to tide over troubles 
by means of its advice and its business accommodation. It 
had given an impetus to the formation of new societies, and 
had extended and helped to consolidate Co-operative effort in 

So much, roughly, may be claimed for the S.C.W.S. itself up 
till the time of that first great demonstration ; but, in addition 
to that, it had also, thus early in its career, entered into an 
arrangement with the C.W.S. at Manchester for purchasing, 
conjointly, whatever would be mutually advantageous. Little 
remained to go to complete the fifth year's record ; but that 
little meant a great deal. It was decided to estabUsh a proper 
drapery department, so that this important branch of the trade 
of the Wholesale Society might be put upon a better business 
footing than was possible when drapery goods were sold in the 
grocery departments. Mr David Gardiner, of the Bathgate 


Co-operative Society, was appointed to undertake the organisa- 
tion of the department and to act as drapery buyer. He was 
offered the prodigious salary of £iio per annum, and that was 
only four shiUings per week more than he had in Bathgate. 
It was not a big inducement to change his home, nor was it a 
big reward for his increased responsibihty. Many friends urged 
him to remain where he was ; but Mr Gardiner shouldered the 
new responsibilities, and is shouldering the greater responsibilities 
of the S.C.W.S. drapery department and its allied factories 
to-day. Assisted by two young women, in December 1873, he 
established the drapery department in a corner of the imposing 
warehouse opened with so much pomp in September. He 
planted a mustard-seed which took root and grew. Like most 
wholesale drapery businesses, it combined for a time the 
furniture, furnishings, and boot and shoe trades ; and Mr 
Gardiner fathered what was destined to become a very large 
business. A period which saw the S.C.W.S. estabUshed in a 
warehouse of its own, built on a site for which it had paid 
£5,000 in good coin of the realm ; a period which saw the 
inception of a business which afterwards brought into being a 
crop of great productive factories ; and a period which brought 
into the service of the Wholesale three of the oldest and most 
trusted servants who lived to see its jubilee attained, is not 
the least important period in a memorable history. The officiials 
named are not the only surviving veterans connected with that 
period. " W. F. Stewart, of Penicuik," " AUan Gray, of 
Bathgate," " James Murphy, of Lanark " — ^who were directors 
of the period — may be identified still with the Wholesale's flour 
mills, and its cash office ; and with the Lanark Co-operative 
Society. Many will envy these men the satisfaction they derive 
from the contemplation of that first period of five years when 
they rejoiced to find the Society with 127 purchasing share- 
holders and gratified at the year's turnover of £384,489, which 
brought the five years' total up to a little over a milUon. 












It would have been too much to expect that the wave of 
prosperity that had carried the Society along from the beginning 
would not recede sometime. It did recede, and some of the 
most stalwart friends of the Wholesale were alarmed. In the 
whole history of the S.C.W.S. there has been no more critical 
period than that which was encountered almost immediately 
after the triumphs celebrated in the opening of the Paisley 
Road warehouse. The crisis was brought about by the collapse 
of the Scottish Co-operative Ironworks Company, a concern to 
which reference has been made earUer, in which a good many 
co-operators were shareholders, and in which nearly all the 
societies connected with the Wholesale were involved through 
the Wholesale Society's association with it. 

The Ironworks Company, like some of the other productive 
concerns mentioned in the last chapter, had its origin in labour 
unrest — even then no new thing. The engineers — and Clyde 
engineers, too — ^had been conducting an agitation for shorter 
hours, and the agitation succeeded tolerably well. That was in 
1872. When the struggle was over " a number of the leaders 
who had become publicly known through their advocacy of 
working-class interests were discharged from their various work- 
shops. In these circumstances it was proposed that a co- 


operative iron company should be formed, and meetings that 
were held in May and June (1872) eUcited promises of support 
which justified the prosecution of the scheme."* So the idea 
grew. James Borrowman, the manager of the S.C.W.S., was a 
whole-hearted supporter of the scheme. He and others delivered 
lectures at all the trade meetings to which they had access, and 
on 6th July 1872, in St Enoch's Hall, Glasgow, there was a 
general meeting of those interested, and steps were taken for its 
formation. " The Glasgow artisans interested learned that a 
number of artisans in Dumbarton were labouring in a similar 
direction, their special object being to commence shipbuilding 
on the co-operative system." j The two groups of enthusiasts 
joined their forces together, and resolved to combine the idea of 
a co-operative ironwork with the idea of a co-operative ship- 
building and engineering concern. Rules were drawn up and 
duly sanctioned by the Registrar ; and a directorate was con- 
stituted, which comprised men who were connected with the 
various branches of the trade, and practically acquainted with 
its requirements. The Company was registered under the 
Industrial and Provident Societies Act and the Companies Act, 
and the share capital was fixed at ^^50,000 in £1 shares, trans- 
ferable. The basis of the scheme was that capital was to be 
paid 5 per cent., and labour was to be paid at the current rates 
of wages, while the profit was to be equally divided at so much 
per £ on capital invested and wages earned.} 

The directors of the Ironworks were men of considerable 
weight. Prominent Dumbarton members of the directorate 
were Provost Bennet, Bailie Buchanan, and Councillor Cochrane. 
Several Glasgow men were members of the board, and there were 
directors also from Edinburgh, Motherwell, Airdrie, and Troon. 
The shareholders were drawn from these places, where engineers 
and iron workers were interested in the experiment. When it 
was thought that the Company had received sufficient capital 
with which to make a beginning, the directors secured ground . 

' Glasgow Herald, July 1873. 

t Glasgow News, November 1873. 

t It will be observed that the scheme did not follow the scheme of the 
Wholesale Society itself, which paid its fixed interest on capital, paid the 
employees part of the profits in the form of bonus on their wages, but gave 
the rest of the profits to the purchasers in the form of dividend on their 


and buildings which constituted part of an old ironworks at St 
Rollox. Part of the old plant went with the building — a steam 
engine, boUer, and various machine-tools and other appliances 
— and comparatively early in 1873 work was commenced. The 
directors were not satisfied with that venture ; and, in view of 
the fact that so many of the shareholders were engaged in the 
shipbuilding trades, they first leased a yard at Troon for carrying 
out ship repairs, but very soon afterwards the Company purchased 
about six acres of ground at Irvine for building new ships, and 
for doing marine engine work in connection with the St Rollox 
works. This was an ambitious venture. It would have been a 
big venture for the Scottish Wholesale Society to embark upon 
to-day with its big capited ; and it seems almost incredible, in 
the light of our wider experience, that the Ironworks Company 
should have attempted it when we discover that the total share 
capital subscribed by November 1873 — i.e., after having taken 
on these responsibilities — was only about ^6,000. The Company 
employed about 100 men at St Rollox, and the workers employed 
at their Irvine yard brought the total up to nearly 250. These 
men were aU shareholders ; indeed, it was a condition that 
anyone in receipt of wages from the Company must be a share- 
holder. The Glasgow Herald, in an appreciative article in the 
middle of 1873, mentioned that a large number of contracts had 
been completed, and there were at that time contracts on hand 
to the value of about £6,000. 

A report of the first annual meeting of the shareholders, in 
1873, appeared in the Co-operative News. The report submitted 
by the directors was not glowing. The directors, in their 
preamble to the balance-sheet, admitted that the report was 
not so satisfactory as they could have desired ; "but they pointed 
out the great difficulties and obstacles in the way of forming a 
new company, and in the starting and carrying on of two 
separate works, and they expressed the hope that, " although 
short of the expectations of the more sanguine," the progress 
indicated would meet with the approval of the shareholders. 
They admitted that careful and energetic supervision was wanted, 
and they appealed to the shareholders to appoint to the board 
men who could devote time and energy to the work. They also 
urged the shareholders to take up additional shares, and to use 
their influence to induce others to take shares ; and the directors' 


report continued, " We have every confidence in recommending 
it as a safe and likely to become highly profitable investment." 
Confident as to the future they may have been ; but they " did 
not consider it judicious to show any profit " in that balance- 
sheet. The balance-sheet was " duly criticised," according to the 
Co-operative News report, but it "was adopted unanimously, and 
the members were addressed by Mr Borrowman. 

Even before the end of 1873 there were whisperings of a 
somewhat sinister character regarding the Ironworks, but few 
people paid very serious attention to them, and least of all, 
apparently, did the directors of the concern. The general 
impression was that the nature of the industry in which the 
company was engaged was such as to require pretty heavy 
expenditure before contracts could be executed ; and the result 
was that societies kept investing a little capital in the company, 
although they were aware that it was in debt. The sympathy 
of Mr Borrowman, the manager of the Wholesale, was a very 
considerable asset to the Ironworks. Like a number of other 
societies, the Ironworks Company was in the habit of depositing 
its cash in the Wholesale, and withdrawing it when wanted ; 
but, very unUke other societies, it allowed itself to remain in 
debt through overdrawing its account. The accounts presented 
by the Wholesale Society to its own shareholders were models 
of publicity in those days ; and they are still. In the accounts 
then published the position of every shareholder was made clear, 
and it was. seen that the Ironworks Company had been allowed 
to overdraw or had had cash advanced. When the quarterly 
meeting was held on New Year's Day 1874 the whole question 
was raised by the delegates. The report of the ineeting states 
that " Mr Borrowman went into the matter, and thoroughly 
explained the reasons which induced him to make the advances 
referred to, exonerating all in connection with the management 
from blame. He explained also, not in justification of his 
position, but as an expression of his faith and confidence, that 
the results would prove to be successful and profitable in the 
end." There was a discussion on the whole position ; but the 
delegates did. not appear to think that the situation called for 
any special intervention on their part, for they decided to leave 
the whole matter in the hands of the committee to take whatever 
steps they thought fit to safeguard the interests of the society. 


The decision did not please everybody. The committee did 
what they thought best to save the Ironworks, not only for the 
reputation of the movement, but for the sake of the Wholesale 
Society's own financial interests. Money was still being 
advanced with the approval of the committee, but it transpired 
that over £9,000 had been advanced without their knowledge. 
Mr Borrowman was so full of optimism, and his Co-operative 
zeal was so pronounced, that the committee partly shared his 
hopes of the future success of the Ironworks. Mr John AUan, 
the secretary, was, nevertheless, appointed cashier — a post 
which Mr Borrowman had formerly coupled with that of manager. 
The Ironworks Company still went on, and its directors put 
a brave face upon the matter. Probably we might be disposed 
to vary " brave " for another word, in the light of all the circum- 
stances ; but, while the quarterly meeting of the Wholesale 
Society was to be held in Glasgow on 28th March, the " annual 
soiree and concert " of the shareholders and employees of the 
Ironworks was held, also in Glasgow, on 27th March — the 
evening before. There was a large attendance in the Assembly 
Hall, Bath Street, where the soiree was held. Mr Howie, 
manager of the works, presided, and the platform party included 
Mr Borrowman. Others present were Provost Bennet, the. 
chairman of the company ; the Rev. Robert Thomson, of Lady- 
weU Church ; and others of less influence. Mr Thomson 
dehvered a very eloquent address on the merits of co-operation 
generally, but he described, with the greatest possible enthusiasm, 
visits he had paid to the works at St RoUox and at Irvine, and 
he expressed his great delight at the extent of the work the 
company had on hand. " The situation of their shipbuilding 
branch at Irvine could not be better," he said. He looked 
forward to the time when Irvine would be too small for the 
company, and hoped " they would go on building larger vessels 
year after year till they would be equal to any other large ship- 
building firms on the Clyde." This was very heartening to the 
shareholders of the company, and no doubt reassured employees 
present who were connected with other Co-operative ventures 
in Glasgow, and who might be present as delegates at the S.C.W.S. 
meeting the following day. Mr Borrowman spoke, and enlarged 
upon the benefits of Co-operation, urging the people present to 
do everything possible to extend Co-operative efforts. If he 


said anything about the Ironworks particularly it is not recorded 
in the Co-operative News report. Provost Bennet, however, 
was most optimistic. He was sorry to say that the working- 
classes of the city did not take up the spirit of Co-operation as 
they ought to do, and it was to that defect on their part that he 
attributed the fact that the Ironworks were " not in that high 
state of perfection that they ought to be." He confessed that 
the company had had " a great many difficulties to contend with 
at the beginning, but they had got over these, and he was glad that 
the company was now in a more satisfactory condition." That, 
from the Provost, was a decidedly comforting speech for those 
who had doubts about the stability of the Ironworks Company ; 
and the Provost concluded by expressing the hope that " good 
results would flow from that respectable and interesting 

The following day, when the Wholesale shareholders met, 
the matter was gone into again. Mr Meldrum, who presided, 
gave a detailed statement of the action taken by the Wholesale 
board, and his account was supplemented by Mr John Stevenson, 
of Kilmarnock, who was then a member of the board. A serious 
discussion ensued, and men of equal Co-operative enthusiasm, 
and equally sound sense, were found ranged upon opposite sides. 
Archibald Ewing, of Alloa, Robert Finlay, of Tillicoultry, Leckie, 
of Bannockbum, Gray, of Alva, and others, were stoutly 
censorious of the board's method of dealing with the Ironworks 
Company. Their attitude was that the company was in a bad 
position, and that it would be unable to retrieve its fortunes,, 
and so they urged that the Wholesale Society should make no^ 
more advances to it. Other stalwarts like John Ramsay, of 
Bo'ness, John Poole, of Portobello, and R. Scott, of Edinburgh, 
were firmly convinced that the board had acted wisely in the 
interests of both concerns — the Wholesale and the Ironworks — 
and that the board had done the best thing possible for the cause 
of Co-operation ; and they stoutly urged that the Wholesale 
should continue to give financial assistance to the company to- 
enable it to tide over its difficulties. This, they believed, was 
the only way in which the company could be saved, and the only 
means by which it would ever be able to pay back the advances 
already made. One fact, creditable to the democratic spirit of 
the delegates assembled there, was the complete confidence 


which the meeting had in the directors whom they had elected 
to conduct their business ; for, despite the heat that had 
arisen over this question, and the great interest that was at 
stake, the delegates ultimately decided, by a very large majority, 
that the matter should still be left entirely in the hands of the 
directors, to be dealt with at their discretion. This confidence 
was all the more creditable to the delegates and to the directors 
alike because the Wholesale Society itself was somewhat pinched 
for money, and at this same meeting the directors were given 
power to raise a sum of £5,000 on the security of its property. 

As we have already mentioned, Mr John Allan had been 
appointed cashier for the society. At the meeting just 
described a secretary had to be appointed. The position of 
affairs generally gave a very special importance to the election. 
Mr John Arnott, of Grangemouth, had been appointed by the 
board to act as interim secretary. He was nominated for the 
post at this meeting (although he was not able to be present) ; 
but there was also nominated Messrs Allan Gray, manager of 
Bathgate Society ; A. M'Lean, the manager of the Govan 
Equitable Society ; T. Hodgson, of Barrhead ; and Smith, of 
St RoUox. After a second ballot between Mr Arnott and Mr 
Gray, the latter, who was also a member of the board, was 
elected by 63 votes against 59. Mr Gray was not destined to 
act as secretary for any length of time. Before the next 
quarterly meeting took place Mr Allan had resigned the post of 
cashier, and the committee had appointed Mr Gray to that 
office, which he still adorns. Andrew Miller, of Tillicoultry, who 
was commissioned to act as interim secretary in succession to 
Mr Gray, was confirmed in offi.ce at the quarterly meeting of the 
shareholders in June, and retained his post till death called him 
in 1907. The affairs of the Ironworks had gone from bad to 
worse. Deputations were sent by the company to various 
co-operative meetings and conferences throughout the country 
to explain the position. In May representatives attended the 
East of Scotland Conference, to many of the delegates at which 
one of the emissaries, Mr Balmain, of St Cuthbert's Association, 
was well known. The conference agreed that delegates present 
should recommend their societies to help the Ironworks by 
taking shares. The members of the Penicuik Society, after 
hearing a statement from a representative of the Ironworks, 


agreed to take shares to the value of £io and debentures to the 
value of £50, but that was only on condition that the Wholesale 
Society did not press for an immediate repayment of the money 
owing by the company. Kilmarnock Society subscribed £100, 
and ThomUebank, Kilbarchan, and other societies also sub- 
scribed to the capital of the company to help it over its 
difficulties. When the quarterly meeting was held in June the 
committee minutes submitted contained many references to the 
Ironworks, and to the committee's deaUngs with the company. 
There were again discussions of a protracted nature ; but the 
minutes were approved, although several resolutions were moved. 
The frequent discussions regarding the relations between the 
Wholesale and the Ironworks were undoubtedly having a 
deleterious effect. Stephen Cranstotm, of Penicuik, although 
he had only a month or two before been favourable to his own 
society taking shares and debentures in the company, moved 
that a special committee should be appointed to consider the 
whole workings of the Wholesale and its financial position. The 
majority were satisfied, however, and his motion was rejected 
in favour of a motion for the adoption of the balance-sheet. 
About 140 delegates attended the September quarterly meeting — 
a number that was only regarded as fair at that time — and the 
greater part of the time was taken up with the same old trouble. 
The affairs of the Ironworks had gone still worse, and the critics 
of the board were very outspoken. A feeling of nervousness 
had seized the board as well as the delegates ; a good deal of 
extra work fell upon the directors, frequent meetings were 
called. The balance-sheet showed sales for the quarter 
amounting to ^£104,127, which was £6,000 more than for the 
previous quarter ; but the sales for the preceding quarter had 
been considerably less than the sales for the two quarters that 
had gone before. The expenses had gone up to from 3d. to nearly 
4^d. per £ of sales, and the dividend was 4d. per £, the same as 
for the preceding quarter, but below that averaged for the two 
preceding years. Mr Andrew Boa, a Kinning Park delegate, 
was one of the keenest of the critics of the board at that meeting ; 
but another was Charles O'Neil, a Paisley Provident salesman 
and enthusiast, who literally riddled the bcilance-sheet and the 
committee. So keen was the criticism that it was actually 
moved that the balance-sheet be not approved ; but this was 


defeated on a vote by a substantial majority. Nevertheless,, 
notice of a motion for the next meeting was given ; and a delegate, 
writing to the Press, made it quite clear that " the real construc- 
tion of the motion, pure and simple," was : " Is the present 
manager to be continued at his post ? " 

The directors were in a delicate position. James Borrowman 
had been a strenuous worker with John M'Innes for the establish- 
ment of the Wholesale. From the inception of the Society he 
had been a strenuous worker for its success, and had given 
ceaseless help to every Co-operative venture that had been 
established or which it was sought to estabUsh. At the same 
time, they could not shut their eyes to the fact that he had, of 
his own initiative, and on his own responsibiUty, jeopardised 
the 'Wholesale Society itself. His action was the undeniable 
cause of serious divisions in the Society and in the societies that 
had their money invested in the Wholesale. The effect of the- 
divisions was showing itself in retarded trade increases and in 
the wavering loyalty of societies. Had the board been governed, 
by the ethics of the modern business mind, the manager would 
have been asked to resign when it was discovered that he had. 
mortgaged the money of the Society without the knowledge 
of the directors appointed by the shareholders to conserve their 
interests ; but they were wilhng to give liim the benefit of the- 
doubt in accordance with Co-operative notions of fair play ;; 
and, as we have seen, the shareholders themselves at their 
quarterly meetings agreed with the board by repeatedly refusing 
to interfere with what the directors believed to be the correct 
course to pursue. The Ironworks, however, were on. the point 
of collapse. The Wholesale directors were keeping a close eye 
upon the affairs of the company, and, in order to preserve the- 
Wholesale itself, they decided that Mr Borrowman would have 
to resign. He submitted somewhat resentfully. Naturally, he 
thought of the days and nights he had worked for the success of 
Co-operation and of that Society particularly. His friends did. 
not prove the best of counsellors. He communicated with 
societies on the subject. His resignation was accepted in 
November, and it was decided that he retire from his post at. 
Christmas ; but in December he was addressing Co-operative 
meetings at Glasgow, Johnstone, and elsewhere, and, to some 
extent, he was rousing a feeling of S3nnpathy for himself and. 


hostility to the board for its decision. The excitement which 
prevailed was evidenced from the fact that over 400 delegates 
attended the Wholesale shareholders' meeting on New Year's 
Day, 1875. It was probably one of the most unsatisfactory 
meetings the shareholders have ever had. The meeting took 
place in the Nelson Street Chapel Hall, Glasgow ; the proceedings 
lasted from noon till five o'clock, and the only business disposed 
of was the reading of the minutes. There was a long discussion 
on the minutes, then a long discussion upon the suspension of 
the standing orders, which was moved in order that the delegates 
might cut out the intermediate business, and get to the discussion 
of the motion with regard to the management. When the 
standing orders were, eventually, suspended, there was another 
long discussion upon the motion itself. The friends of Mr 
Borrowman, who was by this time out of office, stood up for him, 
and, of course, others stood up for the committee. Mr 
Borrowman had canvassed a number of the delegates personally. 
Mr Alexander Mallace, the late manager of St Cuthbert's 
Association, once described to the writer his last hand-shake 
with James Borrowman. Mr Mallace was a delegate to that 
meeting from Armadale, and, when buttonholed by Mr 
Borrowman on the morning of the meeting, he told the ex- 
manager : " I'm not going to promise what I'll do ; but I'm 
here with a free hand. I'm going to listen to what is to be said 
on both sides, and I'U vote after that according to what I think 
is best." Borrowman shook his hand, and said : " I can ask no 
more than that." 

The meeting that day fell almost into disorder, and, at five 
o'clock, it was adjourned for four weeks. At several district 
Co-operative conferences the subject was raised, the serious 
position of the Wholesale was discussed, and resolutions were 
passed pledging support to the Society. The Ironworks 
Company's debt to the Wholesale was £10,427, lis. The 
company was rapidly tottering to the disastrous fall which 
actually took place before the adjourned meeting was held. 
What that meant to the S.C.W.S. may be judged from the fact 
that its total capital, including shares, loans, and reserves at 
the end of 1874 was £48,981 ; about £1,049 was reserve funds ; 
less than £10,000 consisted of shares ; about £18,000 represented 
loan capital, and about £*i8,ooo more represented private loans. 


(1) William Miller, Manager, Furnishing Departments and Cabinet Factory, since 
September 1884. (2) D. Campbell, Mannger, Printing and Allied Departments, since 
July 1S87. (3) P. Robertson, Manager, Leiih Branch; entered Service, September 1887. 
(4) N. Andehson, J.P-, Manager, Preserves, etc., Factories; entered Service, June 1884 
(Died since Jubilee date). (5) E.v-Bailie P. Macfarlake, J.P., Man-iger, Root Department; 
entered Service, April 1885, 










The money lost in the Ironworks, therefore, represented more 
than the entire amount of subscribed capital. Little wonder 
there was consternation. The societies, however, ralhed 
splendidly. Additional shares and loans were subscribed, nearly 
£8,000 being deposited within a year. .These subscriptions 
represented the savings of working men and women, who could 
not afford to lose so much, but who were terribly in earnest about 
keeping the Wholesale Society in existence, and at the point of 
efficiency. Their additional subscriptions were to keep the 
business going ; but the £10,000 had gone, and some way of 
recovering the loss had to. be discovered, Penicuik Society 
found the means of salvation, and sent in a proposal that one 
penny per £ of the dividend be capitalised, at 5 per cent., until 
the loss was wiped out. The proposal came before .the adjourned 
meeting on 30th January 1875. It was proposed by Mr Barclay, 
of Beith,, and Mr Cranstoun seconded, on behalf of Penicuik. 
With the spirit of the Penicuik Society the delegates agreed, but 
they amended the proposal sUghtly, inasmuch as they agreed 
that the payments should not be capitalised. The elections to 
the board, which took place that day, resulted in Mr Alexander 
Boa being substituted for Mr Meldrum in the chair ; but at the 
close of the meeting, the delegates paid a sincere tribute to 
Mr Meldrum. In acknowledging the eompHments paid to him, 
Mr Meldrum confessed to having received many kindnesses at 
the hands of the delegates. He admitted that they might have 
had a better chairman, but he claimed that they could not have 
had one more earnest or more sincere in promoting the Society's 
welfare. He had been on the board from the commencement 
of the Society, and he had been chairman for four years. During 
the whole of the time he had been on the board he had attended 
every meeting held except one. Mr Meldrum is stiU. proud of 
the record he then made and of the work he then did ; and 
prouder still that the great organisation weathered the storm 
which then seemed Ukely to destroy it. The delegates were 
satisfied with that day's meeting. The ultimate sale of the 
assets of the Ironworks Company brought very httle return to 
the Wholesale, but the method proposed by Penicuik, with the 
modification agreed to at that meeting, recouped the Wholesale 
with very little inconvenience to the shareholders. The propor- 
tion of profits allocated to the redemption fund amounted to 


£1,792, 7s. 4d. in 1875. The following years brought, respectively, 
£1,906, 7s. 3d., £2,455, IS. 7d., £2,502, 9s., and £i,557. IQS- 9^-. 
the last sum being the amount deducted for 1879, when the 
account was finally closed. 

In the history of a federation, which closes its jubilee year 
with five and a half millions of capital and reserve funds 
exceeding a million, it may seem to throw our picture out of 
perspective to devote so much of our space to the loss of 
£10,000 ; but the Wholesale Society had not a reserve fund of 
a miUion then, and Uttle would have sent it the way of the 
Ironworks Company. The loyalty of the members, the careful 
consideration given to the matter by the humblest workers 
connected with the Co-operative movement, and, more than 
anything else, the conviction of the masses of the Co-operators 
that the Wholesale Society would be, as it had been, a boon to 
the workers, led to the> devotion and energy with which all 
worked together to forge'ahead in spite of the difficulties. It 
is the only serious crisis with which the- Wholesale has been 
faced in its whole history ; and it was, perhaps,- no great mis- 
fortune, for it taught directors and shareholders a lesson which 
they have never forgotten. Years have come and gone, but 
every meeting of the shareholders is attended by delegates who 
have been at preceding meetings, and who will be at subsequent 
meetings. The personnel changes, but the traditions of the 
Wholesale meetings remain unchanged in their essential, and 
there is no tradition more jealously preserved than that which 
gives every delegate the title to question any item in the minutes 
of the board meetings or in the balance-sheet. It is a tradition 
which took its birth in the democratic conception of the earUest 
Co-operative societies, but whatever other traditions may have 
been lost, the recollection of the Ironworks Company will 
preserve that tradition for all time. 

The experience of the S.C.W.S., after the difficulty had been 
solved by the shareholders at that memorable meeting, was 
tryiiig- Faith in Co-operation had been shaken in some who 
had not actually become members of societies. In business 
circles the loss sustained by the Society had the effect of cooling 
down the fervour of commercial travellers who had formerly 
been most pressing for orders. People with whom the Wholesale 
had done business from its commencement refused orders. The 


whole position was explained to them, but they were unable, 
for their own plausible reasons, to supply the goods the 
Wholesale wanted. Mr James Marshall, who had been 
appointed manager in succession to Mr Borrowman ; Mr 
Ebenezer Ross, who became grocery buyer in consequence of 
the change ; and even Mr Macintosh, who had been appointed 
head bookkeeper in 1875, knew what the difficulties were. It 
amazed business men in Glasgow and elsewhere to find that a 
society of working-men could survive under a loss of £10,000. 
When matters improved, and it was seen that the stability of 
the Wholesale Society was no longer in question, the travellers 
discovered the address of the warehouse once more. Mr Ross 
had no need of them then, and has had no need of them since ; 
but we are glad to be able to put it on record, as evidence that 
the sense of human gratitude does not die under Co-operative 
influence, that firms which did not fear to do business with the 
Wholesale Society in those days of trouble are still doing 
business with it, and proud of their connection. 




Except for the temporary cooling down of enthusiasm due 
to the unhappy circumstances described in the last chapter, the 
Wholesale Society was making satisfactory progress. John 
M'Innes proved to be an excellent Press representative, and 
his quarterly criticisms of the societies referred to in the 
Wholesale balance-sheet had a very useful effect. Societies 
that were deficient in loyalty, or behind the figure that their 
quarterly purchases from the Wholesale ought to reach, were 
made aware of it not by any pointed reference to themselves, 
but through the tributes John M'Innes paid to those who 
excelled in their duty. His methods had the effect of stimulating 
a healthy spirit of emulation, and societies that were behind 
the mark one quarter were usually found making an effort to 
take their proper place the following quarter. Those old 
balance-sheets show results that may surprise many to-day. 
At one time the Crosshouse Society topped the list for purchases 
from the Wholesale ; Bo'ness held the premier place several 
times in succession ; Penicuik, Kilmarnock, Barrhead, 
Tillicoultry, Dumbarton, and Bathgate were frequently singled 
out for distinction for their excellent buying. When the Iron- 
works trouble began the quarterly report showed that eleven 


societies purchased between them nearly a third of the total 
goods sold by the Wholesale, the first of the eleven being Bo'ness 
and the eleventh St Cuthbert's ; and it is interesting to observe 
that one of the eleven societies was that of Stockton-on-Tees, 
which probably found Glasgow as convenient for a supply 
depot as Manchester. In 1875 the sales were only 4-9 per cent, 
above those of the preceding year ; but the disturbance of the 
peace of the Co-operators throughout the country, as we have 
seen, accounted for that comparatively small increase. In the 
latter part of the year, however, the wonted rate of progress 
began to show itself, and the directors and the officials began 
to sleep more contentedly at night. 

What, it may be asked, was the position of the directors of 
this Society at that time ? The chairman and the secretary 
were nominated and elected personally, as also were the auditors, 
but the ordinary directors were not so elected. Societies were 
elected to appoint a representative each on the board. It was 
a method that enabled the shareholders to recognise the help 
that particular societies gave to the Wholesale by their large 
trade, and it accounts, to some extent, for a traditional connec- 
tion which some societies seemed to have with the Wholesale 
directorate. At the same time, it was a method that had 
weaknesses, although they could not be called obvious weak- 
nesses, for some important federations still adhere to the same 
method. From the foregoing chapter readers wiU be able to 
conceive of the amount of responsibihty that devolved upon 
conscientious directors of a concern doing an annual trade of 
very close upon half a miUion pounds. Nevertheless, there were 
no fixed salaries for the directors. They were paid for every 
meeting they attended, and were paid their railway fare besides — 
the railway fare in those days being second class. The pay for 
attending the meetings was 10/ and 8/ per day, according to 
the distance between the director's home and the meeting-place. 
It was not a lavish sum, in view of the responsibiUties attaching 
to the office, especially when it is remembered that, till Andrew 
Boa was elected chairman, there was only one Glasgow man 
on the board — Gabriel Thomson, the treasurer. Little as the 
remuneration was, there were some who thought that even that 
was too much ; and, before the end of 18,75, it was proposed 
that the rates should be reduced to 8/ and 6/. The proposal. 


however, was not adopted. The auditors, upon whom so much 
depended also, were rewarded at the rate of 35/ per quarter, 
although they had their fee raised to 50/ at the same meeting 
at which it was sought to reduce the fees of the directors. There 
is ample evidence that, despite these modest fees, the Society 
was well managed immediately following the lesson that had 
been taught ; and, indeed, throughout the whole career of the 
Wholesale, its directors have given to its affairs not merely the 
attention for which they were paid — for, measured by the fees 
allowed for a good many years, their work should have been 
light — ^but they have bestowed upon it the attention due to a 
trust placed in their care. The honourable discharge of a duty 
voluntarily accepted — ^the guardianship of the property of their 
feUow-workers — and enthusiasm for the propagation of a system 
and a cause which earned their service, have been the motive 
powers that have led Co-operative directors to sacrifice the 
social pleasures that would have been open to them if their 
lives had been ordered by the standard of an eight hours day. 

At 93 Paisley Road the business was being conducted 
vigorously. The representatives of the retail societies could 
always find a reUable stock of first-class groceries and provisions 
for sale. Bakers' grist flour was also supphed, and special efforts 
were being made to develop that trade. Arrangements had 
been entered into for the importation of the best Continental 
produce — ^butter, cheese, etc. — via Leith. The Society was still 
agent for several Co-operative manufacturing societies, notably 
those of Paisley, Eccles, Hebden Bridge, and Auchtermuchty, 
as well as the Glasgow Cooperage Society. Yams, cottons, and 
general drapery goods were also being pushed by Mr Gardiner 
in the drapery department. The balance-sheets took all the 
sales together, and no distinction was made between the depart- 
ments for a time ; but, in 1875, the drapery was separated from 
the grocery department. The goods were aU sold to societies, 
large and small, at the same terms : " One price only is charged 
to aU societies, the smallest purchaser being charged at the same 
rate as the largest," was how an old advertisement of the period 
read. Only registered Co-operative societies were supphed with 
goods, the non-shareholders, as now, receiving half the rate of 
dividend paid to the shareholders. 

The trade seemed to develop extensively as well as inten- 


sively, and the number of shareholders was growing. It was 
believed that the Wholesale Society could do something to make 
it extend still further. The societies in the East of Scotland 
brought the subject into prominence several times, and they 
concluded that the wisest step that could be taken would be to 
establish a branch depot at Leith. The East of Scotland 
Co-operative Conference committee made extensive inquiries 
into the trade of the societies in that area, in order to ascertain 
what the prospects of a branch there would be. At a conference 
held at Portobello in 187^, Mr James Lochhead, who passed 
away only very recently, reported that repUes to his inquiries 
indicated that fourteen societies in the East and North-East 
were purchasing from the Wholesale at the rate of ^62,000 per 
annum ; and these societies had promised that this could be 
increased to £75,000. The unanimous feehng expressed at the 
conference was that something should be done in order to reUeve 
the societies in that district from the necessity of either paying 
heavy charges for carriage on goods sent from Glasgow or of 
dividing their purchases with local merchants. It was unani- 
mously recommended that the. societies interested should be 
represented at the following meeting of the Wholesale, in order, 
if possible, to get their views adopted. 

A week later Ihe matter was raised at a meeting pf the Whole- 
sale Society., Mr Poole, who submitted the formal motion, pointed 
to the advantages that a development of this kind would bring 
to the S.C.W.S. He pointed to the big increase in the. Society's 
trade in Continental produce which arrived at Leith, and he 
argued that the opening of a depot there for the storage of, such 
produce, and to which buyers from retail societies could go for 
suppUes, would mean increased trade and increased membership. 
All the oratorical force of the East of Scotland was employed 
to support the proposal, but the mass of delegates concluded 
that the representatives of the East had not provided suf&cient 
data. It was therefore agreed to appoint a small specicd com- 
mittee to collect and furnish statistics, which might be submitted 
at the next quarter's meeting. Before that meeting the report 
of the special conunittee was circulated, but the East of Scotland 
Conference commented upon the character of the report most 
unfavourably. It was complained that "all that had been 
attempted by the committee was to submit three queries to tke 


societies interested," and the uncharitable view was expressed 
that these queries " were so framed as to be almost uninteUigible." 
At the shareholders' meeting in January 1876 the delegates again 
took the view they had taken at the previous meeting. They 
had still too httle data to go upon, only fifteen societies having 
responded from among sixty-five from whom inquiries were 
made. An interesting contribution to the discussion was made 
by Mr W. F. Stewart, then of Penicuik, who naturally supported 
the proposal to open a branch. His speech was characteristi- 
cally vigorous, and his explanation of the dearth of repUes was 
that " it did not necessarily prove a lack of interest in reference 
to the matter : it might possibly be that a good number of these 
documents had fallen into the hands of hostile managers, lazy 
secretaries, or simple-minded committees, some of whom might 
have Ut their pipes with thein, not knowing for what object they 
had been sent." From this quotation those who know him now 
will agree that Mr Stewart's frankness has not diminished with 
the passing years. All the oratory, however, did not convince 
the delegates at that meeting, and it was resolved to defer the 
whole proposal for twelve months. Eventually, the Leith 
branch was started in 1877, and Mr Stewart, whose oratory, as 
we have seen, had emphasised the demand for the branch, was 
appointed manager. The results of the trading of the branch 
were an ample vindication of the demands made by the East of 
Scotland societies. The first estimate made by the East ot 
Scotland Conference was supplemented, it will be remembered, 
by a promise that the trade in the district would be increased 
from £62,000 to £75,000. When the accounts for the first 
year were closed, the recorded sales were £76,767, lis. id. The 
branch had been estabhshed in premises in Constitution Street ; 
but less than a year's experience proved the premises to be 
hopelessly inadequate. In 1879 ground was purchased upon 
which permanent buildings were erected, and the Leith branch 
has proved to be one of the best propagandist agencies of 
Co-operation in the East" of Scotland. The East of Scotland 
Conference Association kept the Leith Branch Committee in 
existence for some time after the branch was opened ; and at 
the quarterly conferences this Committee submitted a regular 
report of their efforts to develop the trade of the branch by 
inducing societies to trade there, and by inducing societies to 


join the Wholesale. It was an excellent means of stimulating 
interest in the Wholesale ; and, even yet, there is no Co-operative 
Conference Committee in Scotland which gives the Wholesale so 
much attention in its annual report as the East of Scotland 
Conference Committee does. 

While the agitation which led to the estabUshment of this 
branch was being set afoot, other changes were in process. 
Andrew Boa, who had only been elected to the presidency of 
the society at the beginning of 1875, had to rehnquish his post 
in September of the same year. His health failed, and he had 
to leave Scotland and take up his residence in Australia. Mr 
Boa was probably one of the most enthusiastic reformers of his 
time. Not only was he extremely keen in deyeloping Co- 
operation — and we may say, incidentally, that he did his best 
to promote the success of the ill-fated Ironworks and other more 
fortunate ventures — ^but he was an ardent trade unionist, and 
one whose oratory was at the call of advanced working-class 
organisations in his time. Prior to his departure from Scotland 
he was entertained at dinner in Weir's Restaurant, Argyle 
Street, where he was presented with a dressing-case and a purse 
of sovereigns. The chief spokesman on that occasion was Mr 
M'CuUoch, a well-known Kilmarnock Co-operator ; addresses 
being also dehvered by James Marshall (the manager), John 
Barrowman, James Murphy, and others. Mr Boa died in 
Australia. It may be added that a young associate of his in 
his earUer days was a lad who was also to make his name known 
in the Co-operative world — William Maxwell. Mr Boa was 
succeeded in the chair by Mr John Allan, who had been, in 
turn, secretary and cashier for the society. It was a year of 
important changes, for Mr Gabriel Thomson resigned the 
treasurership which he had held from the inauguration of the 
society, and was succeeded in office by Mr John Barrowman, 
of Rutherglen. Mr Barrowman's term of office as treasurer 
was of comparatively short duration, for in 1877 the office was 
abolished altogether, the members of the society having come 
to the conclusion that with a competent and responsible cashier 
there was no need to perpetuate the treasurership. 

The Ayrshire Co-operators, stimulated by the success of the 
campaign that had been waged for the establishment of a 
branch of the S.C.W.S. at Leith, joined with the Co-operators 


of Renfrewshire in a demand for the establishment of a centre 
at KUmamock or Ayr. Throughout 1877 the matter was 
discussed at frequent conferences. The case for the establish- 
ment of the Leith branch was based on the large trade that 
was being done in Continental produce ; and the basis of the 
case put forward on behalf of the establishment of the 
Kilmarnock branch was almost similar. The two counties were 
noted for their agricultural produce, which was rich in quality 
and in quantity, and Ayrshire especially for its butter and 
cheese. ' Co-operative societies in the district, paradoxical as 
it may seem, were engaging in competition among themselves 
for the supplies available. Their representatives were purchasing 
from the same farmers in the same markets ; and the S.C.W.S. was 
purchasing as well as they. The position was stupid, keeping 
in view the aim of the Co-operators who desired to embark as soon 
as practicable on schemes of production. Co-operative buyers 
were bidding against one another, and thus needlessly affecting 
the prices and depriving their members of the full economies 
that Co-operation ought to bring. Besides, the trade of the 
Wholesale Society in the produce of the Ayrshire agricultural 
areas was a mere trifle compared with what it should be. The 
sales of the S.C.W.S. in those goods were only £1,600 for a 
quarter ; and Mr Inglis, of Paisley, told the Wholesale meeting 
that his own society could consume more than half that amount 
itself. Indeed, the small trade done by the Wholesale in a 
class of goods that should have been easily disposable focussed 
the attention of the whole Movement upon the position — the 
Co-operators of the district saw to that being done. 

After frequent discussions it seemed apparent that the only 
way out would be to establish a collecting centre there so that 
a buyer, or buyers, representing the Wholesale could go to 
the farmers and arrange purchases at the best terms because 
of the collective orders they would be able to place. It meant 
a considerable item of expense ; and some of those connected 
with the management of the Wholesale were not over-sanguine 
about the proposal because it represented a new departure. 
That latter truth was what commended the idea chiefly to the 
Ayrshire and Renfrewshire Co-operators ; and when the question 
was brought forward eventually at the last quarterly meeting 
in 1877, they had taken such practical steps to "educate" 


delegates from other districts that the proposal was carried. 
Twenty societies in the district gave an undertaking to make 
their entire purchases through the Wholesale in the event of 
this practicable step being taken. Mr IngUs submitted the 
formal motion — " That the Wholesale Society open a place of 
business in Kilmarnock or Ayr as the committee may think fit, 
and that they appoint a buyer to represent them there." One 
of the doughtiest champions of Co-operation in Scotland in later 
years, Mr Henry Murphy, of Lanark, entered the arena that 
day as a supporter of the demand. James Borrowman, no 
longer the manager but a delegate, and a frequent critic of the 
board's operations, also supported the proposal. There was an 
amendment to the effiect that the proposal be referred back for 
further consideration ; but Mr Inglis carried his proposal by 
78 votes against 34. At the January meeting in 1878 the minutes 
of the board meetings contained various references to the new 
depot. Mr James Black, of Beith Society, had been appointed 
to act as buyer " of the Ayrshire and Renfrewshire produce 
for the society," and premises had been leased at a yearly rental 
of £40. Three months later, the chairman, Mr John Allan — who, 
by the way, had been opposed by Mr Henry Murphy at the 
January meeting, and had been re-elected by 138 votes against 
48 — was able to announce that the depot had been established 
in accordance with the instructions of the shareholders. He 
mentioned also that a curing department had been added to 
,it, and that the directors expected to be soon able to smoke 
their own hams. The Wholesale staff for a time carried on 
operations to a very hmited extent, caution having to be 
exercised in feeUng their way amongst the farmers, and making 
themselves acquainted with the various markets. Mr James 
Black soon became a perfect adept in this direction, and the 
venture attained considerable success, the trade extending year 
by year until the buyers at Kilmarnock found it necessary to 
conduct their search for supplies further afield than Ayrshire, 
and explore the counties of Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, and 
Wigtown, purchasing cheese, butter, oats and oatmeal, potatoes, 
pigs, and cattle, in large quantities. Various extensions have 
taken place since, but the depot was an excellent centre from 
which to organise trade with the retail societies in the South- 
west of Scotland. So extensively was this trade developed that. 


apart from the purchases made by these societies at the Central 
Warehouse, goods to the amount of close on £400,000 were sold 
from the Kilmarnock branch during 1918. 

In the meantime, several 'minor troubles caused some little 
criticism and discussions at the Wholesale meetings and at the 
meetings of societies federated with the Wholesale. The Oak 
Mill Company, which has already been mentioned, had been 
experiencing the difficulties that usually arise from attempting 
schemes more ambitious than the capital available warrants, 
. The company had been fairly well supported by the Co-operative 
societies, both by trade and by investments ; but the continual 
shortage of capital made the company's struggle very arduous. 
Of course, it might have attempted less ; but it attempted too 
much in the circumstances. The societies in the neighbourhood 
of Tillicoultry, where the company had its mill, were all 
interested in its progress, and efforts were made to secure 
financial help from, the Wholesede Society. Mr Kyle, of Alva, 
pressed for a loan of £1,000 to be voted at one of the quarterly 
meetings ; but the loss involved in the collapse of the Iron- 
works had not been fully made good at that time, and the 
lesson was too fresh in the minds of the delegates, so the loan 
was not granted. The company never paid any profit, and 
when it finally went down in 1880 the Wholesale lost a little 
in a bad trade debt and lost a little in investments, too, the 
total involved being less than £200. There were several other 
losses of a similar character. The Glasgow Cooperage Company, 
the Lurgan Damask Society, and the Hawick Hosiery Company 
were productive ventures which failed because they were not 
properly constituted, or were not sufficiently provided with 
capital, or because they were conducted by men who were 
perhaps not so gifted as the generality of Co-operators ; but 
they all involved the Wholesale in slight losses. About the 
same period some bad debts were also written off the books of 
the Wholesale, owing to the failure of several retail societies ; 
but their effects upon the Wholesale Society were almost 
negligible except that they led to increased vigilance on the 
part of the already alert officials. The year 1878 brought many 
of the working people of the West of Scotland something more 
serious than these triffing bad debts to think of. The City of 
Glasgow Bank collapsed with a loss of over six millions sterling. 


and the crash brought down many business estabUshments 
besides the bank itself. Scarcely a day passed for some time 
that did not bring failures caused through the bank disaster, 
and very serious distress was caused. Relief funds were opened 
everywhere ; but in a loss that was probably the greatest 
recorded till then in Scotland, the subscriptions were only like 
a drop in a bucket. It is evident from the records of the 
Wholesale that some of the retail Co-operative societies were 
affected by the disaster as they were affected by every industrial 
or financial disturbance. The effect on the retail societies was 
reflected in the trade of the S.C.W.S., for the total trade for 
1878, while it reached the creditable figure of £600,590, repre- 
sented an increase of only i-g per cent, on the trade of 1877. 

Towards the end of 1878 John Allan indicated that he did 
not intend to seek re-election to the chair. His health had 
left a good deal to be desired, and it has to be remembered 
that he had lived through some very strenuous times in the 
Wholesale, aU things considered. For the prospective vacancy 
there was a plethora of candidates, among them being Mr John 
Barrowman, who had formerly been treasurer, and, once more, 
Mr Henry Murphy. The choice of the delegates at the election 
meeting fell upon Mr Barrowman, who during his short tenure 
of the office proved himself an adept at handling the business. 
He was an excellent choice. Few men have passed over the 
S.C.W.S. stage who have given a better account of themselves 
or have played their parts to greater satisfaction than John 
Barrowman. He made his entry upon official life when the 
days were darkest and the Ironworks trouble was disturbing 
the minds of the people. Mr Thomson was then giving up the 
treasurership, and it seemed essential that his successor should 
be a man who would commend himself to the working people 
of Scotland. John Barrowman was well known in trade union 
circles as well as in Co-operative circles. He filled a big place 
in the municipal Ufe of Rutherglen, and he was one of the first 
working men to be elected to the Town Council of the old burgh. 
Two earnest men, after consultation with some of their 
colleagues who recognised the fateful choice that the Wholesale 
had to make, went to Rutherglen on a Sunday evening to beg 
John to consent to be nominated for the treasurership. It was 
not an easy matter to convince him, because the post was no 


sinecure then ; but the two missionaries of progress — John 
Allan and John M'Innes — eventually won him over, and he 
agreed to his nomination. The shareholders agreed to have 
him. It was a happy choice, and John held oii&ce till it was 
abolished as already mentioned. His election to the chair 
was an equally happy choice. Considerable developments were 
taking place. The joint buying arrangements entered into 
between the Scottish Wholesale Society and the sister federation 
in the South had been extending. It had been arranged that 
the S.C.W.S. should buy sugar for the two Wholesales. An 
estabUshment had been opened at Cork for the purchase of 
butter for the two federations ; and there the buyers found 
themselves up against difficulties because they had to take 
goods they did not want in order to get goods they did want, 
and it was not always easy for the Co-operative federation to 
dispose of the goods unsuitable for its own customers. The 
co-operation between the two Wholesale Societies was a 
considerable advantage to both, because the English Society had 
the advantage of the best Scottish markets through the S.C.W.S. 
buyers at Glasgow, Leith, Kilmarnock, and Greenock, who got 
the best prompt cash terms; and the S.C.W.S. had the 
advantage of the services of the English Society's buyers — 
seven in Ireland, two in New York, three in Manchester, one 
in London, and one in Liverpool. 

The drapery department was flourishing as well as was 
expected. In 1877 it published a price list for the first time, and 
it is rather interesting to observe that sufficient advertising was 
secured for its pages to cover the cost of printing. While the 
people then had scarcely recovered from the effects of the 
Franco-Prussian War — ^which had sent the 4-lb. loaf up to gd. 
and oatmeal to 3s. per stone — the people of 1877 were more 
fortunate than those who have had to pay the price for the 
great war which marks -the close of the Wholesale Society's 
first half-century, for this first drapery price list shows that 
spindles of Alloa yarn sold in the present war-time for 82/ 
were sold in 1877 for 34/. The department was developing in 
other directions : for as in the case of sugar and of other goods 
sold in the grocery and provision departments, so in the drapery 
departments there were arrangements made thus early for 
Co-operation between the two Wholesale Societies, arrangements 


that have extended widely since. Another departure which 
had some considerable influence upon the stability of the 
Wholesale Society was the inauguration of an insurance fund 
in 1879. This was to cover marine risks on goods carried for 
the Wholesale. Other insurance funds have been inaugurated 
since to excellent purpose. The departments concerned are 
charged the current rates, and these sums are credited to the 
funds, by which means the Wholesale has accumulated since 
1879 insurance funds amounting to over £400,000. 

There were some interesting personaUties among the delegates 
at the Wholesale meetings at the period of which we are now 
writing. Henry Murphy did not stand 'alone. John Stevenson, 
of Kilmarnock, vigorous till his last weeks in the Wholesale 
board, was at that time a Titan in debate. John M'Nair and 
William Barclay, of Kinning Park ; John Slater, of the Scottish 
Section of the Co-operative Union : those who knew them in 
later years will be able to appreciate the merits of discussions, 
among these men on a proposal to set aside £200 a year for 
the payment of a Co-operative lecturer and his expenses with 
the object of spreading Co-operation pure and simple, and with 
the object of stimulating interest in the S.C.W.S. among 
societies that had not till then been thoroughly aroused as to- 
the place that such a federation must take in developing 
Co-operative progress. There was need of propaganda in many 
districts. The North of Scotland was, according to the view 
of one who had afterwards to judge by hard experience, " a 
Co-operative desert." Some of the earliest societies in Scotland 
had their roots in the North, and some of those then in 
existence had done excellent work to spread the Co-operative 
idea ; nevertheless, their isolation from the other societies, 
partly because of the wide area over which they were scattered, 
partly because while expecting the members to show a 
Co-operative spirit the societies themselves were lacking in a. 
true conception of the value of associative effort, made progress 
in the North very slow. No one knew the difficulty of moving 
these societies better than John Barrowman, the president of 
the Wholesale. Two decisions arrived at effected a change for 
the better. The Wholesale decided to open a branch at Dundee, 
which would give the Co-operators of the North opportunities, 
that were already enjoyed by the Co-operators of the West 


and of the East ; and it was thought that the economic 
advantages this would give the Northern societies would react 
upon the members and lead to the increase of the ranks of 
Co-operators in that untapped district. It was also decided to 
appoint the propagandist, whose duty it would be to address 
meetings of potential members where it was possible to form 
societies, to interview the committees of societies with a view 
to arousing their interest in the Wholesale, and to do what he 
possibly could to galvanise the North into full Co-operative life. 
John Barrowman had lived at the hub of Co-operative activity, 
where the Co-operative atmosphere was strong and bracing ; 
but he saw the world of the North to be won for Co-operation 
and he resigned the presidency of the Society to apply for the 
post of propagandist. The directors appointed him in 1881. 
In July of that year the Dundee branch was opened in Trades 
Lane, and Mr Barrowman set out to bring in those for whom 
the economic banquet had been prepared. He found the 
invited guests as unresponsive as those called to another banquet, 
and he went out into the highways and byways of the North 
to bring them in. In March 1883 he was appointed manager 
of the branch at Dundee on a temporary charter which gave 
him a three months' trial. At the end of that period he was 
confirmed in the post, which he retained till 1912. How he 
succeeded may be judged from the fact that he lived to see 
the annual trade of the branch rise from £34,679 to £202,820. 
We cannot praise Mr Barrowman's work too highly. Frequently 
he told in later years of the difficulties he encountered. 
Societies that had but the crudest ideas of what Co-operation 
stood for were chilly in their reception of the emissary of the 
Wholesale. He cycled into remote regions where there were 
no trains and when motor cars were not heard of. He called 
upon committees and managers who were quite content to go 
on in their own way regardless of the fact that they were playing 
at Co-operation in their local stores, while they were retarding 
its progress in their own districts as well as elsewhere by 
stemming the progress of Co-operation in the field of wholesale 
trading and of production that was to follow. The early years 
he spent in Dundee and the North were to John Barrowman 
years of exUe, and we might almost say martyrdom. 
The general progress of the Society continued so satisfactory 
















- iJ 

< z 

- ui 



(1) Thos. B. Stirling. 
(3) Wm. Archbold, d.P. 

(2) John F^earson, J. P. 

(4) Alexr. B. Weir. 


that congestion began to show itself in various directions. 
Co-operators were discussing many schemes for the extension 
of trading and for the multiphcation of their enterprises. The 
membership of the Society began to rise more rapidly ; the 
years 1879 '"■^^ ^880 saw a big augmentation of the capital 
deposited with the Society as well as of the shares taken out 
by societies. The amount added to the capital in those two 
years exceeded £17,000 ; but in 1881 alone more than £25,000 
was added. The trade, too, was developing very satisfactorily, 
and was rapidly approaching a million per annum. Little 
wonder that there were expansions showing themselves in 
many directions, for the familiar circle was being traversed : 
People had joined together in a sort of forlorn hope to help 
themselves by Co-operation ; their Co-operative methods were 
proving economical ; others saw this and joined up in the 
movement ; their added purchasing power increased the 
economic value of the stores and attracted others, and so the 
circle of Co-operators grew. The Wholesale purchased ground 
for extensions of their business premises, and in 1880 secured 
the first instalment of the Clarence Street ground in Glasgow. 
The Paisley Road premises had to be extended in July of the 
same year, the new instalment being stiU distinguishable as 
the middle portion of the island block known as the " gusset." 
In May 1881 ground was secured for a proper warehouse building 
in Kilmarnock, which has since then been extended several 

Another important event occurred with a reference to which 
we may suitably close this chapter. A successor had to be 
found for John Barrowman in the presidency of the Society. 
Mr Barrowman's resignation took effect between two quarterly 
meetings of the shareholders, and it devolved upon the directors 
to elect an interim chairman. Their choice fell upon the 
representative of St Cuthbert's Association on the board whose 
name was WiUiam Maxwell. 





The progress recorded in preceding chapters showed that the 
Wholesale Society had very largely overcome the initial 
difficulties of distribution. " Repeatedly the question was being 
discussed in Co-operative circles : ' When are we going to begin 
Co-operative production ? '" It was assumed by the Wholesale 
from the beginning that its chief success as an ameliorative 
agency would depend upon its being able to bring the production 
of necessary articles under Co-operative control. Robert Owen 
and Holyoake, and many others less well known, had spoken 
rather contemptuously of a conception of Co-operation which 
could not see beyond shopkeeping. Several ventures that were 
made by manufacturing societies might have been calculated 
to deter that generation of Co-operators from venturing their 
money in productive enterprises. There were, however, good 
reasons — or, perhaps we had better say bad reasons — why those 
earlier productive ventures failed. We have already seen what 
some of those reasons were. If we reckon from the year 1878 
it wiU be safe to say that, in one sense, the Wholesale directors 
had already made some attempt to get one stage nearer the 
source of supply than an ordinary wholesale house. At several 
meetings in that year the directors were questioned with reference 
to experiments they were making in the textile trade. It could 


scarcely be called a venture in Co-operative production, although 
it was an approach to that. They had been purchasing warp 
and weft, and giving the material out for manufacture. Appar- 
ently, some little saving was effected by this method, and the 
Wholesale drapery department was by this means getting cloth 
of a character that it actually required. At one of the first 
meetings at which the question was raised, Mr Alexander 
Hutchison, of Paisley, with characteristic municipal patriotism 
and Co-operative sympathy, wanted to know why this work was 
not given to the Paisley Co-operative Manufacturing Society 
(the only one of the early productive societies that had survived), 
and he pointed out that there was competition between the 
Manufacturing Society and the Wholesale. Readers who are 
accustomed to attending meetings of these two federations will, 
no doubt, recollect occasions, not so remote as 1878, when 
similar questions were raised. At that time, however, the 
S.C.W.S. had a fairly good answer to give, for the chairman, 
Mr Allan, pointed out that, if the advice of Mr Hutchison were 
taken, the Manufacturing Society would simply do what the 
Wholesale itself was doing — viz., send the material to job- 
weavers to do at their own looms. While the Manufacturing 
Society has now an extensive factory at CoUnslee, to begin with 
the manufacturing was done in the method just described, and 
the members of the society brought their webs to the house of 
the secretary, which served as a committee-room and a warehouse. 
In 1878 the society had a warehouse in Causeyside Street. 

The Co-operative Congress of 1876 had been held at Glasgow, 
and the attitude of Co-operation to Labour and of Labour to 
Co-operation was discussed at the Congress, in a paper by 
Professor Hodgson, of the University of Edinburgh. That had 
turned the attention of Co-operators to the subject of Co-operative 
employment, and productive enterprises seemed to be the chief 
outlet for developments which would increase the number of 
people Co-operatively employed. Besides, that was the first 
Co-operative Congress that had been held in Scotland, and it 
naturally aroused a good deal of enthusiasm among Co-operators, 
and stimulated interest in the subject among many who were 
not then Co-operators. Even the Glasgow Herald published a 
leading article, which was rather favourable to Co-operative 
aspirations. It is worthy of note that the Herald declared at the 


time that " The enthusiasm of the supporters of the system of 
Co-operation is so great that it appears sufficient in itself to 
carry the cause onwards to success and universal acceptance. 
But the qualities which will ensure such success are rather patience, 
self-control, and, experience, than enthusiasm and, even energy." 
The success of the movement in Scotland from that time must have 
been inevitable, for those who were at the helm of the Co-opera- 
tive ship had all these virtues combined^ — the self-control and the 
patience, as well as the enthusiasm. The patience was never 
lacking, but the enthusiasm received another fillip in Scotland 
because of the very obvious effects of the work of the Wholesale 
Society. We have already seen that, in 1867, there were in 
Scotland 134 Co-operative societies, with a combined membership 
of 26,254, and with sales amounting to a little over £800,000 
per annum. When the first quarterly report was issued by the 
S.C.W.S. directors, there were only 28 societies that had become 
members. Ten years later the official statistics showed that 
there were no fewer than 314 societies in existence in Scotland, 
with 86,382 members on their rolls, and doing a trade of 
£2,831,932 in one year. Of these societies, 133 had become 
members of the S.C.W.S. Now, that marked a great stride 
forward. Co-operation was being more widely discussed, and 
it was being more seriously discussed. Co-operators have 
always contended that people remain outside the movement 
either because they are interested traders or because they have 
never thought the subject out ; and Co-operative societies, 
therefore, have always deemed it part of their duty to set aside 
definite sums for propaganda purposes. The interest taken in 
the movement by the public, the frequent discussion of the prin- 
ciples of the movement, and the endeavours of the enthusiasts, 
must have contributed to this great increase in the strength of 
the movement in those ten years ; but the working-people were 
accustomed to view the whole case from a purely materialist 
point of view till they became Co-operators. The materialist 
arguments in favour of Co-operation were so strengthened by 
the great economic advantages that the societies were able to 
give their members because the Wholesale Society conserved for 
them the wholesale profits, that a very considerable part of that 
tremendous increase must be put to the credit of the Wholesale 
Society. In that sense, the Wholesale Society had already, in 


less than ten years, more than justified its existence, and rewarded 
the pioneers for their own self-sacrifice during the years of 
preliminary effort and the first years of the Wholesale's 

There were other discussions with regard to production. A 
flour miU was wanted, and Mr Borrowman's suggestion at some 
of the preliminary meetings with regard to sugar refinery had 
not been lost sight of. The stimulus given to the desire for 
productive ventures was like seed falling upon good ground. 

The directors were beginning to contemplate actual ventures 
in whatever direction would seem most safe. Some were eager 
to do something, no matter what, in the productive field ; 
others, however, displayed their enthusiasm for the welfare 
of the Society by applying the brake to their more eager 
colleagues. Without doubt the increase in capital, referred to 
at the close of the preceding chapter, was chiefly due to a desire 
to provide money to enable the beginning to be made. The 
beginning came in a very simple form. In the early part of the 
Jubilee year the writer had the privilege of being present at a 
somewhat unique gathering of employees of the S.C.W.S. The 
gathering was held to do honour to a venerable buyer in the 
drapery department, who had that day celebrated his ninetieth 
birthday. He was an authority on Co-operative production. 
He had been chairman of the Paisley Manufacturing Society in 
1865, and had also been manager of the Society for some time. 
He entered the service of the S.C.W.S. in 1874, when the staff of 
the department comprised Mr David Gardiner, Mr George 
Davidson, and two young women. The old veteran * was Mr 
James Leggat, who was hale and hearty despite the snows of 
ninety winters on his head. Mr Gardiner, the head of the 
drapery business of the Wholesale, and Mr Robert Macintosh, 
the Society's accountant, testified on that evening to the credit 
that was due to Mr Leggat as the originator of S.C.W.S. produc- 
tions. The story, as told at this gathering, and confirmed by 
the manager of the department, was briefly this : 

The drapery department of the Society had been incon- 
venienced and disappointed frequently by people who used to 
make shirts to its orders. It is almost incredible that Mr David 
Gardiner was ruffled, yet we have had it on the authority of 
* The worthy old man has since passed away. 


Mr Macintosh that the trouble over the shirts in those days 
actually produced a result so surprising. To his two assistants 
he frequently confided his troubles. Mr James Leggat, on 
one historic day when the shirt trouble was at its height, asked 
Mr Gardiner : " Could we not make these shirts ourselves ? " 
The manager replied : " Yes, I think we will have to do that." 
It was thus that the Wholesale Society became manufacturers 
of shirts in January 1881.* It was not an easy task to obtain 
the unanimous consent of the directors immediately ; but 
Mr Maxwell was a vigorous advocate of Co-operative production. 
He had been won into the Co-operative movement by enthusiasm 
for the new world of hope which Co-operative prospects held 
out to the working people. He had been an ardent trade 
unionist, full of democratic sentiments. In 1873 he moved 
from Glasgow to Edinburgh after a. rather romantic career, and 
it was in the Scottish capital that he first began to take a part 
in Co-operation. He joined St Cuthbert's in 1874. In 1876 
he was secretary of what is now the largest Co-operative society 
in Scotland, and the society with the largest distributive trade 
in Great Britain, apart from the Wholesale Societies. He had 
also been secretary of the East of Scotland Conference Associa- 
tion, an appointment which brought him into prominence as 
a propagandist and orator who had frequent occasions of 
expounding Co-operative principles and advocating Co-operative 
ideals. St Cuthbert's Association had appointed him to be its 
representative on the Wholesale directorate, as we have already 
seen. Although a director of the Society, he had been enter- 
prising enough to set up in business at his own trade on his 
own account — needless to say his trade was not one that 
competed with any enterprise that had then come under 
Co-operative control. It was not without some pressure that 
Mr Maxwell jeopardised prospects on which he counted so much. 
At first he refused to be considered a candidate for the chair- 
manship ; but friends in the Wholesale board did not regard 
his refusal as final. On a journey to Manchester he was 

* The venture already referred to — viz., the making up of warp and 
weft for the job weavers — was also due to Mr Leggat's inspiration. " If 
anyone may lay claim exclusively to being the pioneer in Co-operative 
production on the part of the Wholesale, it belongs to Mr Leggat." — 
Mr Gardiner at the birthday celebration. 


pressed by fellow-delegates to allow himself to be nominated, 
and before the end of his journey he had consented. Having 
given his undertaking, Mr Maxwell had resolved that whatever' 
driving power he could provide would be used to propel the 
movement into the fullest conception of Co-operative duty, 
and to attempt to bring about such conditions as would enable 
the Wholescile Society to say that nothing that could be done 
by Co-operators themselves was being done for them by other 
people. It is quite easy to imagine that when the opportunity 
arose, Mr Maxwell should have given all his encouragement to 
the estabUshment of a productive department, although this 
proposition came shortly before he occupied the chair. The 
principal doubt that was raised with regard to the wisdom of 
the proposed departure was due to the fact that the shirtmaking 
industry was then, as it had been for a generation, one of the 
notoriously sweated industries. Nearly forty years before that 
the industry had gained the notoriety and the exposure which 
Hood had given it in the Song of the Shirt, which was published 
in Punch — ironically enough in a Christmas number. The 
starting of shirtmaking threw a new responsibility upon the 
Co-operative movement. 

The immediate problem before the Wholesale Society was to 
manufacture shirts and sell them to the Co-operative societies 
in competition with shirts that these societies could buy from 
other manufacturers who were not scrupulous as to the wages 
and conditions to which they subjected their workers. The 
ultimate appeal, of course, was to the purchaser of the shirt ; 
and the man or woman who purchased articles in those days 
was not, as a rule, very much concerned about the conditions 
under which these shirts were produced. Purchasers who had 
low wages themselves were chiefly concerned about saving a 
copper or two, or even a halfpenny, on the cost of any article 
upon which a saving could be effected. This was the test to 
which the S.C.W.S. had to submit, and it came through the 
test well. The wages in the shirt factory were a considerable 
improvement upon those paid outside, and the hours of work 
were fixed at forty-four per week. Readers will remember that 
we are writing of 1881, not 1918, and that there were then no 
Trade Union Congress demands and there was no threatened 
general strike in industrial circles to support a demand for a 


forty-four hours week. Pressed by such demands and such 
threats the Government to-day is contemplating the estabhsh- 
ment of a forty-four hours week— thirty-seven years after the 
Scottish Wholesale Society established it in an industry in 
which sixteen or eighteen hours per day were being worked for 
a miserable wage, or as Hood put it, an industry in which 
women had to 

" Work — work — ^work, 
While the cock is crowing aloof ; 
And work — work — work. 
Till the stars shine through the roof." 

The hopes of the pioneers of production were justified. The 
first week's wages paid in connection with the shirtmaking 
amounted to £6, 17s. 6d., and the value of the turnover for the 
first nineteen weeks was under £200. It is an extraordinary 
contrast that is shown between these figures and the figures 
registered for the department up to date, for the value of shirts 
produced in the woollen shirt factory now amounts to over 
£13,000 per year. So successful did the shirt factory prove 
that in the same year a ready-made clothing factory was 
established, which, hke the shirt factory, sought to combine 
utilitarianism and ideaUsm. The venture proved quite as 
successful as the shirt factory, and from the small beginnings 
of nearly forty years ago there has grown up a productive trade 
in this department amounting to over £37,000 per annum. The 
ready-made clothing trade, like shirtmaking, was a sweated 
industry, but it may be safely said that, at any time in its 
history, the workers in that factory were engaged under con- 
ditions which were not excelled in any privately-owned factory. 

Developments in the distributive trades were also provoking 
discussions as to production. In 1882 the Society purchased 
a piece of ground which made the Co-operators the sole 
proprietors of the Paisley Road " gusset." The grocery 
department, of course, was forging ahead, but the developments 
in the drapery trade necessitated a great devolution of 
responsibility there. The drapery department, it will be 
remembered, had been a comprehensive business which com- 
prised all now comprised in the drapery, boots, and furnishing 
departments. Even jewelleiy would have been included ; but, 
as the late Mr Peter Glasse once told a social gathering, the 


jewellery department required a safe, and as there was no safe 
in the drapery department, Mr Macintosh, who in a sense might 
be described as " the keeper of the keys," had to take charge 
of the jewellery. This responsibility weighed upon him from 
1879 to 1884. It may be of interest to mention that in 1883 
alone he sold 188 watches (chiefly Genevas and English levers), 
besides a number of gold alberts and wedding rings. A certain 
amount of luck was supposed to attach to wedding rings bought 
at the Wholesale ; and we hope that the expectations of the 
purchasers in every case were realised. The original scales on 
which Mr Macintosh used to test the weight of gold are still 
in the Society's possession. In 1882 it was deemed advisable 
to keep a separate record of the sales of boots and shoes, and 
of the sales of articles of furniture and the other varied articles 
which are more accurately described as furnishings than as 
drapery. Classification of this kind enabled people to see at 
a glance what prospects there were for productive developments, 
and the results were highly satisfactory. One development in 
the production of furniture was in 1882 when the upholstery 
department was started. It was a modest beginning of what 
has become a very serviceable department of the Wholesale. 
The result of the separation of the accounts of the various 
branches of the drapery department, as it had existed till 1882, 
was that in 1884 the furniture department and the boot 
department were found to hold out such promise that they were 
entirely separated from the drapery business and placed under 
distinct control. This development, so far as the furniture 
department was concerned, coincided with the inauguration 
of a cabinet-making factory. This factory was begun in rather 
a smaU way at a time when Co-operators, as a general rule, had 
not very lavish tastes in furniture. Mr William Miller, who 
took charge of the factory, was not only a tradesman who had 
excelled in work which he was appointed to do, but was a man 
of extreme artistic taste. To that, very largely, are due the 
developments that have taken place in the cabinet factory 
which, since its opening, has manufactured goods to the value 
of over one million pounds. For nearly six years there had 
been discussions at Wholesale meetings about the propriety of 
establishing a boot, factory. There were many difficulties in 
the way, and it was not until 1883 that the directors were at 


length given permission to proceed. Ground had been secured 
in St James Street (now known as Wallace Street), and here 
the boot department was set up. The boot factory was opened 
on New Year's Day, 1885, when the delegates attending the 
Wholesale meeting took part in what was a most interesting 
ceremony. The factory and the boot warehouse were combined 
under the management of Mr A. L. Scott, who remained with 
the Society for a good many years. The sales from the boot 
warehouse at this time amounted to £70,000 per year, and the 
value of the boots produced at the factory during its first year 
in operation amounted to £47,620. 

One point that ought to be mentioned is that up to now the 
Society was not quite as free to venture into production on an 
extensive scale as the directors wished it to be. The erections 
of buildings, the purchase of ground upon which to erect them, 
the installation of the expensive machinery and plant required 
to run a modern factory anticipating a large output, involved 
the expenditure of very considerable sums of money. By 1882 
the Society had already spent upwards of £14,000 on land alone. 
The Wholesale Society had at least shown wisdom from its 
earliest years, inasmuch that it bought ground wherever it could 
in preference to leasing ground. There was economy in this. 
The Wholesale Society itself was destined in later years to 
realise that fact ; but the directors had already realised it to a 
considerable extent, as had also some others deeply interested 
in the movements of its affairs, for at the Glasgow Congress, to 
which we have referred, it was pointed out that some societies 
were paying 1/8 per yard for ground purchased outright, while 
others were pajdng 1/6 per yard every year for ground rented. 
The capital invested in the Wholesale Society at the end of 
1881 amounted to £136,000, of which only about £25,000 
represented share capital and the rest loan capital. According 
to the official records of the Wholesale Society the value of 
land and buildings and fixed stock represented about fifty per 
cent, more than the total of share capital invested. The 
directors, in view of this state of affairs, recommended the 
shareholders to agree that the value of the shares should be 
increased from 10/ each to 15/ each, so that the amount of 
fixed capital would be considerably larger. The formal pro- 
position was put to the shareholders at a meeting in June 1882, 


but it was not carried then as it did not obtain the requisite 
two-thirds majority. Repeatedly the directors impressed upon 
the shareholders the need for taking some such step, but it 
was not until 1886 that they had their way and the value of 
the shares was increased. Of course, for several years prior to 
that, the capital had been rolling in very creditably, the 
number of shares having increased from the end of 1880 when 
it. was 41,584 to 1885 when it was 70,066. In those years the 
inclusive amount of capital at the disposal of the Society had 
increased from £110,179 to £288,945. These increases, rein- 
forced by the increase in the value of the shares, gave the 
directors and the shareholders alike confidence to proceed more 
rapidly than they might have otherwise felt themselves justified 
in going. 

There were other considerations which urged them on with 
greater confidence. Mr Maxwell had the gratification of being 
able to announce at the meeting on New Year's Day, 1883 — 
fifteen months after he made his first appearance at a quarterly 
meeting as chairman of the Society — that the Society's sales 
had exceeded the total of one million per annum. It repre- 
sented an increase of £113,942 over the sales for 1881 ; and he 
seems to have been perfectly justified in his observation that 
day : "I think there is a pleasant prospect for all connected 
with this gigantic business." Naturally, the delegates felt 
considerably elated over the fact that the sales represented such 
an imposing total. Mr Maxwell had been fortunate, too, in 
having had, during his first year and a half of office, several 
interesting functions to perform. It is true that he had had one 
or two trifling losses to record again through the failure of 
retail societies. The most serious of these — the failure of the 
Dundee West Society — Mr Maxwell bluntly attributed to the 
imbecility of the management committee who had allowed 
themselves to become " mere tools in the hands of a manager 
who ruled supreme." Apart from these, however, he had been 
encouraged by the success of those productive factories which 
had already been established ; he had had to perform the 
opening ceremony at the new Kilmarnock premises, which was 
an interesting function from which he and his co-directors no 
less than the Ayrshire Co-operators derived considerable 
inspiration. He might weU say in one of those earliest speeches 


of his ^ " The experimental days of Wholesale Co-operation 
are gone, and we are now looked upon as dangerous by many 
interested parties." He had witnessed the descent of the two 
Wholesale Societies upon the London tea market, upon which 
they were to play an important part, which is referred to in 
a subsequent chapter.* It was a glowing tribute to the 
important position that the Wholesale Society had attained 
in Co-operative circles, and to the repute in which its leaders 
were held, that Mr Maxwell was called upon to preside on the 
second day of the Co-operative Congress held in Edinburgh in 
1883. The Congress was presided over on the first day by the 
Right Hon. W. E. Baxter, M.P. for Montrose Burghs, who 
delivered the inaugural address, which took a very high tone. 
Another graceful tribute to the energy and devotion of the 
Co-operators of Scotland was that Mr John Allan, the first 
secretary of the Wholescde, was asked to preside on the third 
day of the Congress. He was not then connected with the 
Wholesale in any official capacity, but he was a member of the 
Scottish Sectional Board of the Co-operative Union, and between 
that body and the Wholesale board there were the most cordial 
relations, because each recognised that both were working along 
different lines — the one through education and propaganda and 
the other through trade and industry — for the promotion of the 
welfare of the Co-operative movement in Scotland. Mr 
Maxwell had also seen, during the short time he had been in 
the chair, a beginning of overseas developments. The English 
Wholesale Society had established depots abroad in which the 
S.C.W.S. joined. One of the first of these was at Copenhagen 
in 1881, Danish butter having become an article of food for which 
there was a large demand ; but that is only one of four Danish 
centres at which the two Wholesale Societies are now repre- 
sented by joint resident buyers. In 1884 the Society was 
represented in a joint business mission to the United States, and 
Mr Maxwell represented the board. The object of the deputation 
in making the journey was simply to carry out the Co-operative 
intention of bringing the consumers whom they represented into 
the closest relations with the actual producer, or to obviate, as 
far as possible, the necessity for deaUng with middlemen. The 
result of the visit was regarded as satisfactory. The deputation 
* See Chapter XI. 


succeeded in arranging such terms with American millers as, 
according to Mr Maxwell's report, " would enable the Wholesale 
to supply all the societies in the federation with all classes of 
flour." That was called getting closer to the producer in those 
days ; and, although the Wholesale has gone far in advance of 
that since then, it was a big stride forward in 1884. That, 
however, was the first of many business missions embarked upon 
by the S.C.W.S. directors ; but that is anticipating another 
chapter. Mr Maxwell was, to some extent, the pioneer of the 
Wholesale's productive enterprise in Ireland. The trade at the 
Danish depots was growing, but there was also growing up a 
larger demand for Irish produce. Mr Maxwell was dispatched 
to Ireland to accompany the manager, Mr Marshall, on a tour 
of exploration in the agricultural centres. Enniskillen was 
chosen as a convenient centre for the collection of produce, and 
a depot was inaugurated in Brooke Street. Four years later the 
Society had purchased ground for the erection of more suitable 
premises, in which a variety of undertakings might be carried 
on, and the EnniskUlen branches of the Wholesale's work have 
prospered ever since. 

The Society, in 1885, took a very wise step. Its properties 
were growing so rapidly that repairs and alterations kept a good 
many tradesmen busy at times. The Society inaugurated a 
building department of its own, under the direction of Mr James 
Davidson, so that it would not only be able to carry on 
productive enterprises, but erect factories in which to carry 
them on. The department now employs about 230 workers, 
and it undertakes the erection of buildings and the structural 
alterations required by other societies, as wQl be found described 
in another chapter. The first of the Society's hosiery factories 
was established in Morrison Street in 1886 ; and, from that year, 
the directors found it possible to look forward to greater 
productive ventures than before. The reason for this greater 
confidence was that, after three years of persistent pressure 
upon the delegates at the Society's meetings, the directors 
succeeded in securing the alteration of the rules which raised 
the value of the shares from 10/ to 15/ each. Year after year 
the matter had been broached by the directors as already men- 
tioned, and at length came the special meeting in March 1886 
when the change was agreed to. It has already been pointed out 


that the original proposal of the promoters of the Wholesale was 
that the shares should be £io each. That was thought to be 
inadequate, and it was agreed that they should be raised to £25 
before the Society actually started business. The £25 was 
payable for every hundred members in the Society joining the 
Wholesale, so that the shares represented 5/ per member ; and 
the shares were withdrawable. In 187 1 the value of the shares 
was raised to 10/ per member of each federated society and made 
transferable. Mr Maxwell, putting the case for the increase 
at the special meeting in 1886, pointed out that when the shares 
were raised to 10/ the trade of the S.C.W.S. was £35,000 per 
quarter ; but in 1886 it had increased to £350,000 per quarter. 
He mentioned, also, that in 1871 the share capital represented 
22 per cent, of the total working capital at the disposal of the 
Society, the increase to 10/ had made the share capital 41 per 
cent, of the totsd ; whereas, in 1886, with ten times the trade, 
and a number of productive works going, the share capital 
represented only 17^ per cent, of the total. The whole of that 
big business of £350,000 per quarter was being run on a share 
capital of £35,000. It was too httle. The total then, including 
the reserves, amounted to £330,000 ; but the bulk of that might 
be called upon at very short notice ; and it had happened that 
one society, owing to interr^al differences, had actually called up 
its whole investments except its shares. The members recog- 
nised the position at last, and agreed. The change did not make 
any immediate increase in the amount of capital in the hands 
of the directors, but it changed the relationship between share 
and loan capital sufficiently to strengthen their hands and their 
courage. It should be added, however, that their courage, even 
as things were could scarcely be thought lacking. For several 
years they had been forging ahead. The schemes that had 
been outlined from quarter to quarter in the president's speeches 
and in the board minutes might well have urged the delegates 
to advise caution and tempt them to apply the brake. The 
directors, however, were resolute upon productive developments. 
The Scottish banks came to an agreement to allow interest upon 
the monthly balance lying at the credit of the Wholesale instead 
of upon the daily balance. The distributive societies were 
depositing their money with the S.C.W.S., as the S.C.W.S. 
desired they should, but to pay interest upon that and get in 


return only the ordinary bank interest was not altogether a 
profitable transaction. In order to make their financial position 
right, apart altogether from their desire to carry out the 
intentions of the co-operative movement, the directors wished 
to push ahead. They had already been reorganising many of 
the distributive departments. The drapery and furnishing 
businesses were being hampered for want of elbow-room. Some 
of the workrooms, and some of the departments connected with 
the drapery, occupied rented premises in a property in Morrison 
Street, which is part of the block between Dundas Street and 
Clarence Street intended for the new grocery departments which 
are partly in process of erection now. It was desired to place 
all the drapery and furnishing departments in the new building 
being erected in St James Street and Dundas Street in 1885,. 
and leave the grocery departments and the offices together in 
the old building at Paisley Road. These rearrangements and 
other evidences of serious attempts to consohdate and co-ordinate 
the various departments of the Society were chiefly directed 
towards a big forward move. Part of these developments was 
the inclusion of a hall in the new building which was being 
erected in 1886 in Clarence Street. The cost of including this 
in the plans when the building was being erected in any case 
was about £1,000 ; and the directors had agreed to obtain 
power to have that included because they had calculated that 
it cost the Wholesale about £30 per year for rent for the haUs- 
for meetings of shareholders and for other occasions. The cost 
of the new hall worked out, or was estimated to work out, at 
about £50 per annum ; and it was anticipated that what the- 
Society itself would save in rents, together with what it might 
receive from other societies for the use of the hall when required, 
would make the haU pay its own way. In addition to that,, 
there was the feeUng that the possession of the haU would give 
the Society something calculated to stimulate the social spirit. 
One other departure of this period that ought to be mentioned, 
in view of great developments that followed later, was the 
inauguration of the miUinery department of the drapery 
warehouse. This took place in the latter half of 1885, and in 
September of that year the first S.C.W.S. millinery show was 
held so that the buyers from the retail societies might have a 
complete display of the Wholesale's novelties presented to- 


them in the most convenient form. It was held in Glasgow, 
of course ; but the societies in the East of Scotland were not 
overlooked. They were, we believe, invited to send their repre- 
sentatives to Glasgow ; but as many of them could not very well 
do so, the directors and the manager of the drapery department 
arranged for a special two-days' show in the Waverley Hotel, 
Edinburgh, a week later. Those annual shows have multiplied 
into three annual shows of millinery and mantles, one in the early 
spring, one in the early summer, and one in the autumn; and 
they never fail to attract large attendances of the heads of the 
departments of the retail societies that handle the goods shown. 
All this, however, did nothing more than popularise the goods 
of the Wholesale ; and as the sales grew, the directors were 
more and more compelled to face the question of extending the 
productive departments of the Society. Permission had been 
given for the erection of several factories, and the directors 
had been on the lookout for a suitable site on which aU the 
factories might be placed close together. One site had been 
inspected at HiUington, and the directors had been in negotiation 
regarding it ; but there were difficulties about drainage that 
made it undesirable to make the purchase there at that time, 
and the matter was dropped. In 1887, however, the directors 
secured twelve acres of ground at Shieldhall upon which to 
erect their great hive of industry. The original conception of 
the place was that it was to be a miniature garden suburb with 
the works in the centre and houses for the workers close at 
hand. This conception was Mr Maxwell's. It was an 
inspiration that had come to him on his way home from 
America in 1884. He had seen the " big way " America had 
of doing things, and he felt that the co-operators of Scotland 
might do for their own economy what others did for doUars. 
He has frequently told us of the headshakings that he saw, 
and of the warnings he had even from some of his colleagues. 
He cut the first sod there on 23rd July 1887, when he delivered 
an address that teemed with satisfaction at what had been 
accomplished by the Society up tiU then, and teemed also with 
confidence of the success of the future, especially of the future 
of that great undertaking. The Shieldhall of to-day is 
described in a later page of this record,* but the president's 
* See Descriptive Section. 


(I) Hugh Campbell. (2) Wm. R. Allan. 

(3) William Gallacher. (4) George Thomson. 



iM MiiMu; 



(1) Robert Stewart, J. P. (2) Thomas Little. 

(3) John Bardner. (4) James Young. 


words on that occasion are worth remembering. To some 

extent they are already fulfilled, and to some extent they are 

still to be fulfilled. " I believe," he said, " the ceremony we 

have been engaged in points out a new era in the relationship 

between the seemingly antagonistic forces of labour and capital. 

In a few years hence, I hold, if this undertaking is carried out 

with efficiency, there will be no better field for the study of 

the question of the future — the assimilation of capital and 

labour." From that point of view Shieldhall has been a 

wonderful experiment, the effects of which we wUl try to analyse 

before we close these pages. Mr Maxwell, before concluding 

that address, ventured into the realm of anticipation with some 

of that poetic vision that sometimes characterised his speeches : 

" I trust when years have revolved round the scroU of time, 

and other busy hands and busy brains, after we have passed 

away, have taken up this work, that this fair vaUey will be 

peopled by thousands of contented folks^ 

" Whose best companions, innocence and health. 
And their best riches, ignorance of wealth." 

It is perhaps a melancholy reflection that, of the directors 
who were responsible for the conduct of the affairs of the 
Wholesale at that time, not one is now on the board. All have 
died, except Mr MaxweU himself, and he found it necessary 
to retire from the active work of the Wholesale ten years 
before the Jubilee was reached. In one sense his vision 
of the happy vaUey has not materialised. There were no 
tramcars passing Shieldhall then. The estate on which the 
ground was then situated was three miles from the central 
premises of the Wholesale, and was outside the burgh of Govan 
which was beyond the municipal boundary of Glasgow on the 
south of the river. Now Shieldhall is within the city boundary. 
The Wholesale paid £500 per acre for the ground of the happy 
valley ; in 1914 it paid £1,400 per acre for another piece of 
ground adjoining. The land had grown in value by no effort 
of the proprietors ; its appreciation was due to the growth of 
the city and ito the developments brought about by the 
Co-operators and by others. Mr MaxweU, speaking at the 
Co-operative Congress at Birmingham in 1906, mentioned the 
increase that was even then being put upon the value of the 
land of Shieldhall. He had been discussing the question of 


direct representation of Co-operators in Parliament earlier in 
the day, and the question of housing arose later. In the course 
of his speech on the latter subject he instanced Shieldhall. He 
told the Congress that the land they bought there was not 
worth more than 30/ an acre per annum for agricultural 
purposes, so that its price should not have been more than 
£40 or ^50 per acre. Then when the Wholesale had gone into 
the place and put up their factories, the price went up to £1,000 
an acre. " Who created that value ? " he asked ; and he added : 
" Can you understand now why it is better for us to be 
represented in ParUament ? " The hit scored an effective point 
in the day's discussion. 

There were critics of the Shieldhall scheme. The societies 
which constituted the S.C.W.S. were scattered all over Scotland, 
and naturally each district thought that it should have a share 
of the productive works established where the members would 
be able to enjoy model employment. It is doubtful whether 
there will be another Shieldhall ; but what has been done at 
Shieldhall, as we know it, has been an object-lesson in many 
ways. To whatever extent the place succeeded as an industrial 
centre, it has never been the garden village Mr Maxwell con- 
templated. Other works have sprung up. The Glasgow trams 
whirl past on the road to Renfrew, giving the workers pleasant, 
regular, and cheap travelling facilities to the city on one side 
and the ancient burgh on the other ; while the Clyde ferry 
affords easy communication with Partick and other populous 
centres on the opposite side of the river. The prospective 
opening of a new dock, which wiU only be separated from the 
Shieldhall works by Maxwell Road, which skirts the west side 
at present, will make the district more and more an industrial 
area, and, even if the residental part of the original scheme 
had been put into effect, the probabihty is that many of the 
workers would move their residences elsewhere before many 
more years. Mr MaxweU had Uttle reason to complain of the 
great progress made during his first nine years on the board. 
Six years before he was appointed, the directors were given 
permission to borrow £5,000 on the security of the property; 
before he was six years on the board, the Wholesale was lending 
money to Co-operative societies on the security of theirs. We 
have seen how those years had brought the inauguration of 


those productive ventures which now employ 6,000 persons, 
and many men would have been content with the lajdng of 
the foundations of Shieldhall as a Ufe's crowning effort. Yet, 
the year which saw the little ceremony of the cutting of the 
first sod performed in presence of the directors and the heads 
of departments, witnessed — two months earUer — the opening 
of the Clarence Street hall, where the shareholders now meet 
when the statutory meetings take place in Glasgow. In June 
of that year, the big extension of the Leith warehouse was 
formally opened at a gathering of delegates under the auspices 
of the Wholesale Society and the East of Scotland Conference 
Association. In August the printing department was opened 
in the same building as the Clarence Street haU, under the 
management of Mr David Campbell, of the Co-operative Printing 
Company, Edinburgh. Mr Campbell had been one of the most 
vigorous agitators in favour of the estabhshment of the Leith 
branch of the S.C.W.S., and was well known throughout the 
country as the secretary of the East of Scotland Conference 
Association. Before the department was in working order the 
directors had been authorised to include paper-ruUng and 
bookbinding among the enterprises of the department. In 
1887, too, the S.C.W.S. joined with the C.W.S. in the issue of 
the Co-operative Wholesale Societies' Annual, which served a 
useful purpose but which appeared for the last time in the 
S.C.W.S. Jubilee year, its place being taken by the more 
comprehensive People's Year Book. The " Annual," which 
gave a mass of useful Co-operative information, was first 
published in 1880. Mr P. Redfern records that copies of the 
issue for 1883 had been sent to Queen Victoria and the Prince 
of Wales. Sir Henry Ponsonby, acknowledging the copy, said : 
" The Queen is glad to learn of the success of a movement which 
not only encourages thrift, but which also teaches the habits 
of business and promotes education among so large and important 
a body of her people." The Prince of Wales's secretary wrote 
that the Prince was " anxious to express the extreme gratification 
which he experiences in finding that so large a body of the 
working men of this country are united in a determination to 
benefit themselves." The " Annual " was at that time the 
exclusive property of the C.W.S., and it was not tiU 1887 that 
it was first issued as a joint publication. In 1888 efforts were 


made to begin a cattle-buying department. Inquiries were 
made as to the trade the societies would be Hkely to give, and 
on the strength of pledges from twenty-three societies, doing a 
trade of £45,000 per annum, the work was undertaken. The 
societies were slow to take advantage of the department at 
first ; but it eventually grew, although societies in remote 
districts, especially those near agricultural centres, regarded 
cattle as local produce and made their purchases locally. The 
printing department, however, proved successful from the 
first under Mr Campbell's direction, and in two years it had to 
be transferred to Shieldhall. That was 1889, the Society's 
majority year. 




The Wholesale's Majority Year was ushered in almost with a 
royal salute. The movement was being torn to shreds, 
figuratively — although it would have been literally if interested 
opponents had had their way. While committees of retail 
societies were lecturing their members on their duty to their 
societies, and whilst the S.C.W.S. chairman was lecturing — 
sometimes scolding — the delegates because their societies were 
not giving all the trade they might give to the Wholesale, there 
were others who thought the Wholesale Society and the retail 
societies that composed it were getting too much trade. 
Traders had ridiculed the early Co-operators for their " miserable 
attempts at shopkeeping " ; but, now, the Co-operative 
movement had grown to such an extent that it was regarded 
as a menace to the community. Scarcely a meeting of the 
Wholesale was held or scarcely a balance-sheet was issued 
which was not attacked in letters to the Press. The Press 
itself was not distinctly hostile ; because in 1887, when 
Co-operators had reason to be hurt at somewhat unscrupulous 
misrepresentations made in letters-to-the-editor, the Glasgow 
Evening News and Star, for instance, printed a rather apprecia- 
tive article on the Scottish Wholesale Society apropos of the 
opening of the Clarence Street haU. Of course this, although 


well enough intentioned, was simply made the excuse for fresh 
outbursts on the part of those who saw their trade flowing into 
the Co-operative channels. This kind of thing had been going 
on for some little time; first attacks on the Wholesale, then 
attacks on the retail societies, and even then the oppression of 
individual members of retail societies. Paisley had the honour 
of being one of the first places singled out for attack in 1886 
or 1887. In spite of it all, the business continued to grow ; 
members rolled in, and new departments, as we have seen, 
increased in number. Mr Maxwell on more than one occasion, 
referring to the sales reported in the balance-sheet, pointed to 
the increases as reflecting the contempt with which Co-operators 
regarded the threats and tactics of the interested parties. The 
movement did not suffer from these attacks to any very serious 
extent, for the attacks led to more frequent discussion of the 
subject of Co-operation in the workshops. The formation of 
traders' associations in most of the large towns in the country 
showed unmistakably the depth of the hostility which the 
success of the movement had provoked — nevertheless, Mr 
MaxweU, at a quarterly meeting in 1888, anticipated even then 
what the effect would be. " These associations," he said, 
" formed for the express purpose of suppressing our movement, 
will, I have no doubt, give an impetus to our cause. Their 
loud outcry about the destruction of trade by Co-operation 
has set many to think out for themselves the rival claims of 
self-interest and associated effort. Personally, I am much 
pleased at the turn affairs have taken lately." 

The bitterness of the attacks upon Co-operation and the 
vigour with which Co-operators replied were equally well main- 
tained. The conflict culminated in a pubUc debate on 5th 
February, in the Society's majority year, the principals in 
the debate being Mr James Deans, of KUmamock, represent- 
ing the Co-operative movement, and Mr Robert Walker, of 
Glasgow (and now, we beheve, of Manchester), who represented 
the Traders' Defence Association of Scotland. The debate took 
place in the Waterloo Rooms, Glasgow. Each side had been 
allowed 600 tickets, and the haU was filled, so that the enthusiasm 
and interest in the debate were pretty widespread. The subject 
for discussion was, in the words of the chairman (president of 
the Glasgow ParUamentary Debating Association), "the whole 


question of Co-operation versus private trading." The spokes- 
man for the traders put forward the commonplace statement 
that they did not object to Co-operation pure and simple — 
what they objected to was what Mr Walker called the 
" delusive dividend system." That Mr Walker was not 
familiar with Co-operative ideas was perfectly clear from the 
fact that one of his chief objections to Co-operation was that 
Co-operative manufactures had, in many cases, to be taken by 
members no matter what the quality or cost might be. Had 
Mr Walker had the privilege of attending many meetings of retail 
societies, or even of the Wholesale Society, he would have 
known how delusive any director would have found the idea 
that Co-operators would be satisfied with " just anything." 
The most effective speeches and the most effective arguments 
were undoubtedly those of Mr Deans. The method by which 
the traders attempted to oppress Co-operators was revealed by 
Mr Deans, who floored Mr Walker by producing documentary 
evidence of the deUberate boycott of Co-operators, the families 
of Co-operators, and all who traded with Co-operators. He 
produced circulars that had been sent to employers' offices 
asking the employers of labour to use their influence to stem 
the tide of Co-operation. Anonymous letters had been sent 
to employers, bringing charges of a serious nature against 
servants holding positions of responsibihty and trust ; and as 
an evidence of what was going on, he read a cutting from a 
Stirhng paper which we reprint in fuU : — 

The Stirling Traders' Defence Association. — At a largely 
attended meeting of this Association in the Lesser Hall on Wednesday 
last the following resolution was unanimously adopted : — " That the 
Association resolve to employ only those tradesmen and their 
employees that support only individual enterprise. Having received 
no proper satisfaction from the Caledonian Railway Company, have 
resolved to act from this date in terms of memorial." 

Whatever neutrals there were in the audience were impressed 
with these statements more than by anything that Mr Walker 
had had to say. That debate exposed the first of the series of 
boycotts which have been attempted during the lifetime of the 
Wholesale Society ; and, so appreciative were the Co-operators 
of Scotland, that Mr Deans was made the recipient of a weU- 
merited testimonial. 


As events proved, Mr Maxwell's anticipations of the results 
of these activities on the. part of the opponents of the movement 
proved correct ; and when the Society came to celebrate its 
majority everybody connected with it had good reason to feel 
highly elated. In March of 1889 the nature of the celebration 
of this event was discussed at a quarterly meeting, and all 
agreed that the circiraistances in which the Wholesale Society 
found itself were such as to warrant a fairly elaborate programme. 
The celebrations took place on the 21st and 22nd June, and 
were carried through with conspicuous success. A big meeting 
was held in the Music Hall, Edinburgh, on the Friday evening. 
On the Saturday morning the memorial stone of the new 
drapery warehouse, at the comer of Dundas Street and Wallace 
Street (then St James Street), Glasgow, was laid. The delegates 
were taken to the works at Shieldhall by steamer, accompanied 
by the Alva Brass Band. There was a celebration dinner at 
Shieldhall, and in the evening there was a big pubUc demon- 
stration in St Andrew's Hall. It may safely be said that, 
excepting on the occasion of a Co-operative Congress, there had 
never been in Scotland such a galaxy of the leaders of 
Co-operation as took part in those celebrations. G. J. Holyoake, 
an old favourite with divers Scottish audiences ; E. Vansittart 
Neale, the general secretary of the Co-operative Union ; J. C. 
Gray, his successor ; J. T. W. Mitchell, chairman of the C.W.S. ; 
William Bates, of Manchester, and Joseph Clay, of Gloucester, 
directors of the C.W.S. ; M. Haworth (Accrington), of the 
Newspaper Society, and Samuel Bamford, the editor of the 
Co-operative News ,\ T. Wilberforce, of Leeds ; WilUam Bamet, 
president, and James Odgers, manager, of the Co-operative 
Insurance Society ; and George Scott, of Newbottle, were all 
among the English guests who figured on the list of speech- 
makers. There was, of course, an excellent collection of 
Scottish Co-operative orators. James Deans, John Barrowman, 
James Nicholson (of Leith), Thomas Telfer (of the East of 
Scotland Conference), William Barclay (of Kinning Park), 
George D. Taylor (of Edinburgh), Poole (of Portobello), Ramsay 
(of Bo'ness) were among those whose voices were usually heard 
at any representative Co-operative gathering ; and even men 
of such characteristic modesty as James Marshall and Robert 
Macintosh were not allowed to escape their turns. 


Our description of the celebrations might be attributed to 
a desire to flatter if we were to collect the recollections of those 
who participated and who might be influenced by the pleasant 
anticipations of the Jubilee celebrations ; but an excellent 
impression has been left by Mr Holyoake in an article written 
on the occasion. He had taken part in the inauguration of 
the Paisley Road premises in 1873 ; and, after the lapse of 
sixteen years of progressive development, when he revisited the 
district for the majority celebrations, his impression of the 
central premises was of peculiar interest : " The Wholesale 
Society in the Paisley Road has greatly increased in dignity 
since it has been increased in extent. I remember no business 
block in the city, standing at the junction of two roads, more 
imposing. Its colour gives effect to the red curtains, or red 
paint, on the lower part of the many windows. One view of 
the building presents seventy-nine windows. The aspect is as 
bright and hospitable as that of a French hotel." His 
description of the programme was no less interesting and much 
more flluminating. From it we quote : " Early on Friday, 
guests and delegates flocked into Edinburgh from England. 
Around the Music HaU in Edinburgh, and afterwards in 
St Andrew's Hall in Glasgow, were displayed names of persons 
whom the Scotch Co-operators held in regard — Vansittart Neale, 
Lloyd Jones, Thomas Hughes, Abraham Greenwood (in front 
of the gallery), Robert Owen (in front of the platform), 
J. T. M'Innes, and Alexander Campbell. It was the first time 
I met my own name thus manifest. Tea had been provided 
for 1,500 persons before the meeting, and it was amazing to 
hear that each person on going out would receive a parcel 
composed of some dainty edible product of the Wholesale. 
The industry and resource were surprising which made up 
1,500 parcels while the speeches were proceeding. 
Handsomely bound books of procedure, with tickets too dainty 
to be given up, were provided for the guests. - In the said book 
we learned that after the Edinburgh meeting (which lasted tUl 
near eleven at night) we were to take an early train next 
morning so as to be in Glasgow by 9 o'clock ; and at 9.30, at 
Dundas Street, over the river, at a foundation-stone laying — 
to be in a steamer at 10, on the way to Govan, to be at 
the Shieldhall banquet at 12, and again in St Andrew's Hall 


Glasgow, at five. We had great enjoyment, but we seemed to 
take our sensations by electricity." 

" The remarkable thing of the proceedings in the two cities," 
continued Mr Holyoake, "was the speeches of Mr MaxweU. 
Though responsible for aU the arrangements, and superintending 
them, and in the chair four times, altogether for twelve hours, 
his own speeches were fresh, various, and informing, and 
delivered with admirable perspicuity. As is the case with our 
English meetings, too many persons were put down to speak, 
which imposed upon the chairman constant vigilance as to 
time. At Edinburgh there were twelve speeches ; at the stone- 
laying, eight ; at ShieldhaU, twenty-eight ; at St Andrew's 
Hall, twelve— sixty speeches all told. At ShieldhaU, toasts 
had to be proposed in three-minute speeches, which did not 
conduce to fulness of expression, for by the time a formal 
speaker had got as far as ' Mr Chairman, guests, and delegates,' 
his time was half-way up. Yet Mr Maxwell managed his 
superabounding material with admirable art and untiring 
energy. Had Dominie Sampson witnessed Mr Maxwell's two 
days' work, he would with reason have called it ' prodigious.' 
A multitudinous tea party preceded the assembly of the three 
thousand who formed the audience in Glasgow. The morning 
in the Carlisle theatre, one night in MUan, and the greeting of 
St Andrew's HaU from persons I had never seen, I shall 
remember together. The most remarkable of the miscellaneous 
speeches of the night were those of Mr Deans and Mr Bamford. 
Mr Deans, though shght in person and frail in appearance, has 
a voice of gathering force and intensity, with a fluency which 
does not hesitate as to terms, and is never wrong in the choice. 
Mr Bamford is always reluctant and usually omits to publish 
any approving reference to himself ; else I should say that his 
speech had a quaUty of tone and charm of style which surprised 
those who had not heard him speak on a platform before." 

We should add to that that it was a striking demonstration 
that was held to mark the laying of the memorial stone of the 
new drapery warehouse. The stone was laid with ceremony 
by Mr Andrew MiUar, the secretary, who 'was presented" with 
a silver trowel with which to perform his task, the trowel being 
presented to him by Mr Daniel Thomson, one of the most 
cultured of the many men who have served on the Wholesale 


board during its whole history. It is interesting to record 
that the memorial stone contained a jar in which had been 
deposited copies of the Scottish morning newspapers, a copy 
of the Co-operative News, a price list of the S.C.W.S., the 
quarterly balance-sheet, and several other contemporary 
documents. Mr Millar concluded his ceremony with the words : 
■" I declare this stone to be square and level, and I express the 
hope that aU transactions within these walls will be in harmony 
with the stone — that is, just, square, and level." 

Needless to say, the speeches delivered at each of the 
gatherings were very largely congratulatory of the S.C.W.S., 
although the orators also found room to point out obstacles to 
progress of which Co-operators everywhere ought to be warned. 
There was some justification for congratulation, not only because 
of the prosperity of the Wholesale Society, but because of the 
progress the Co-operative movement as a whole was making. 
The year before the Wholesale Society began there were 26,250 
members in the societies in Scotland, whose total capital 
amounted to £96,531, and whose annual trade was reckoned 
at the then enormous figure of £801,110. The lapse of twenty- 
one years had increased the membership to 159,753 ; the 
capital had risen to £1,849,447 ; and the total trade done by 
the Co-operative societies in Scotland in that one year amounted 
lo £7,392,381, on which a net profit of £685,446 was available. 
That difference was stupendous, and its effects were being 
indicated in a variety of ways. In many places in Scotland 
"these societies of working people were becoming the largest 
holders of property. The societies were building homes for 
people, and thus stabilising the lives of the people by giving 
them a real material interest and something to work for. Of 
the Wholesale Society itself during those twenty-one years an 
enormous amount might be written by way of analysis. 
During its minority period the Society had passed through its 
warehouses goods to the value of £17,200,000. One singularly 
interesting feature of the whole of this trade was that only 
about £6,082 of bad debt had been contracted during the whole 
time. The Wholesale had been singularly fortunate in con- 
tracting so few bad debts. It was then regarded as being quite 
satisfactory, in the ordinary commercial trade, if the total loss 
from this cause remained under 2J per cent, of the sales. In 


the case of the Wholesale Society the total bad debts for 
twenty-one years worked out at one-sixtieth of the total. 

The record of the twenty-one years may be stated thus : — 
The capital invested in the Society amounted to £480,622 ; 
whereas the capital invested in the whole of the Co-operative 
societies in Scotland in 1867 amounted to £96,531. The 
societies in membership in the Wholesale to begin with com- 
prised only seven thousand persons ; but, by the majority 
year, the membership had so increased that the Wholesale 
Society represented 100,000 Co-operators. There were in 
Scotland, in 1889, 327 registered Co-operative societies, twenty 
of these owing to the nature of their business (they dealt in 
exciseable Hquors) were ineUgible for membership. Of the 
307 societies remaining, only twenty-five (less than one-twelfth 
of the total) did not purchase from the Wholesale. Of the 
remaining 282 societies which did trade with the Wholesale, 
only forty-seven (one-sixth of the total) were non-members. 
It is also worthy of note that of the total capital invested in 
retail societies fuUy one-third was reinvested in the Wholesale 
Society. The balance-sheet issued for March 1889, the last 
before the celebrations took place, showed that the Wholesale's 
own trade with the societies in Scotland amounted to £510,000 
for the quarter. This was an increase of £83,000 over the 
corresponding quarter of the previous year ; and it is specially 
noteworthy that this increase alone — not the total sales — ^was 
nine times the total turnover for the first quarter in which the 
Society existed. The distributive expenses involved had not 
exceeded 4|d. per £ in any year, and the rate had been as low 
as 3d. per £. On their trade with the Wholesale Society the 
retail societies had received, during those twenty-one years, an 
average dividend of 6^d. per £ ; and the total net profits that 
had been distributed amounted to £414,000. If put in the 
plainest language, that would mean that in the twenty-one 
years of its existence the S.C.W.S. had saved £414,000 for the 
Co-operative societies in Scotland, whose members, but for the 
Wholesale, would have had to pay that in profits to merchants 
and manufacturers. The Society had property, bought on 
fairly satisfactory terms, which with plant and machinery had 
cost £133,000, but which had been written down to a nominal 
value of £100,000 owing to the Society's policy of " generous 


depreciation." It had land to the value of ;£22,730. The 
reserve fund, which was inaugurated in the first quarter by the 
allocation of the total profits — £48, 12s. lod. — now amounted to 
3^38,000. The Co-operators throughout the country had reason 
to be satisfied, not only because they had set up their own organ- 
isation and had done through it this huge trade of £17,200,000 
which would otherwise have been done for them by others who 
would have charged prices and supplied quaUties over which 
the purchasers would have had no control, but they were gratified 
chiefly because their productive ventures were already extending 
and proving profitable. The first of their factories had not been 
started till 1882, and it had already manufactured shirts to the 
value of £10,243 ; its tailoring department, chiefly " ready- 
made," had provided £40,917 worth of clothes ; the cabinet 
factory, commenced in 1884, had in the intervening four and a 
half years, produced £13,611 worth of furniture ; the printing 
department, scarcely two years in existence, had done work to 
the value of £5,617. The greatest triumph of all had been the 
boot and shoe factory, which in the four and a half years had 
had a run of success which gave it an output of 4,000 pairs 
per week, and the value of its productions up tUl that date was 
£145,652. In those few years in which these factories had been 
in operation they had enabled the Wholesale to manufacture, 
under its own control and according to its own ideas, a quarter 
of a million pounds worth of the goods it sold, thus eliminating 
a second profit on that part of its trade. All this trade was 
worked most economically. Readers wiU have noted that 
interest on capital invested was not regarded as something 
that should depend upon the amount of profit earned ; interest 
was regarded as a necessary charge for the remuneration of 
those who lent their capital just as wages were regarded as a 
necessary charge on the business for the remuneration of those 
who lent their brains or their muscle to the business, and interest 
was therefore allowed for before the net profits were declared. 
Notwithstanding that, the total expenses of the distributive 
trade had never exceeded 2 per cent. ; and Mr Maxwell, from 
the chair at one of the shareholders' meetings, declared that no 
merchant or merchants could continue to distribute their goods 
for years, as the S.C.W.S. had done, for 2 per cent., including 
the interest on capital. The Wholesale had made remarkable 


efforts to bridge the distance between the producer and the 
consumer, and thus made the wages of the consumer go further 
than would have been possible — for the people who purchased 
from the stores saved for themselves the retailers' profits; the 
societies saved for their members the wholesale merchants' 
profits by doing their own " wholesaleing " through the 
S.C.W.S. ; and the S.C.W.S., to the extent of its quarter of a 
million of productive trade, saved for the societies and their 
members the manufacturers' profits. These operations were 
enhanced in value by the Co-operation between the EngUsh and 
Scottish Wholesale Societies. Four years were to elapse before 
the formation of an International Co-operative AUiance was 
resolved upon, although the Co-operators of different countries 
were already exchanging ideas ; but at the majority celebrations 
— at the opening meeting in connection with the celebrations^ 
Mr Maxwell, who subsequently became the honoured president 
of the International Alliance, and could be certain of hospitality 
from friends in almost every city in Europe and in many cities 
outside of Europe, threw out one of many suggestions of his 
which have set his Co-operative world thinking. He was 
speaking of the great advantage that had been derived from 
the joint trading arrangements between the English and Scottish 
Wholesale Societies when he said : — 

We are at the present moment the largest exporters of produce 
from Ireland to this country. A great money gain has been made 
through this union, but we had a greater gain by means of it ; we 
have had a glimpse — if only a glimpse — of what might be done by 
International Co-operation. Now that men are co-operating in 
nearly every country in the world, what is to hinder the development 
of this scheme so that they shou,ld do as the English and Scottish 
Wholesales are doing — exchanging their products — and instead of 
the rank and file of society meeting on the battlefields of Europe for 
the purpose of annihilating one another at the command of some 
potentate, they would then meet on the lines of peace and amity 
for the purpose of studying each other's progress and happiness. 

So much had been done and so much was contemplated to 
bring producers and consumers closer together. Something 
had been done to reconcile the interests of capital and labour. 
The Wholesale's employees numbered 1,200, and they, like the 
purchasers, shared in the profits of the business through the 
bonus paid on wages. A later reference will be made to that 


subject in considering the Society's relations with its employees ; 
but it will cause no digression here to record that up tUl the 
majority year, the employees had received £8,605 ^^ bonus in 
addition to their wages, which Co-operators held should be the 
best paid an5rwhere. The share of this bonus which fell to the 
workers in the productive departments worked out at rates 
varying from 22 to 26 per cent, of the total profits earned in 
those departments. 

Mr Lloyd Jones, the well-known Co-operator, who had been 
an Owenite and a Christian Socialist in turn, and who had been 
attached to the North British Daily Mail (now merged in the 
Glasgow Record and Mail), once declared that " in Co-operation 
you have a thing which has succeeded in spite of every kind of 
stupidity." The stupidities of the early days — ^it is nearly 
half a century since these words were uttered — ^were pardonable 
so far as they were perpetrated by the untutored men who 
struggled in despair to save themselves from misery by resorting 
to Co-operative experiments. Year after year had seen the 
tragic procession of educated, and once wealthy, business men 
through the halls of the Bankruptcy Courts. If they, in their 
enlightenment, gravitated there, who dare revile the unschooled 
if they should trip over some of the rocks in the sea of 
commerce ? Stupidities there had been ; but, everything 
considered, they had been comparatively few among the 
Co-operative societies of Scotland, and they had been amazingly 
few even in the first twenty-one years during which the S.C.W.S. 
directors were steering their organisation over the cobble-road 
of experience. The position in which the S.C.W.S. found itself 
on attaining its majority must have given intense pride to those 
concerned about the progress of a Society which, having come 
into existence on the strength of pledges of trade to the amount 
of ;£ioo,ooo per annum, was able to boast of an annual turnover 
exceeding two rmUions when it came of age. 



The next decade began weU, and a survey of the years which 
brought the nineteenth century to a close showed wonderful 
activity throughout Co-operative Scotland. The Wholesale 
Society was stiU pushing forward in its laudable desire to cater 
for all the wants of the Co-operators and their famiUes. The 
quarter which succeeded that in which the majority was 
celebrated gave remarkable evidence of the value of the fiUip 
which Co-operation had received. During that quarter the 
sales amounted to over £603,000, a sum which exceeded the 
total trade for the year 1878. The increase in trade during 
that quarter had been equal to about one thousand potinds per 
day. This had been accomphshed with so Httle effort that 
the directors and the managers kept pointing out to societies 
that if this remarkable increase had been achieved so easily 
a very httle effort would do an enormous amount to reduce the 
difference between the amount of the goods sold by societies 
and the amount sold by the Wholesale to the societies, and it 
would also do a great deal to bring the amount of goods 
produced in Co-operative factories much nearer to the amount 
of the goods sold in Co-operative shops. Still further productive 
factories were established, the first addition of ;this kind being 
the brash factory. The printing department had to be 


(1) John Millen, P.A, 
(elected 1886). 

(2) Robert J. Smith, C.A. 
(elected 1397). 

(3) W. H. Jack, F.S.A.A, 
(elected 1902). 












considerably extended, paper-bag making had been added tci 
the operations of the department, and considerable additions 
had to be made to the plant. The cabinet factory had been 
extended, and it was as an adjunct to this that the brush 
factory was inaugurated in January 1890. Progress was being 
made with the erection of the buildings to accommodate the 
preserve department, and this was inaugurated in June of the 
same year. 

Before the year closed the Co-operative Congress was held in 
Glasgow. It was a memorable gathering, over which Lord 
Rosebery presided on the opening day, and deUvered the 
inaugural address — an address which has become historic 
because of his description of the Co-operative movement as 
" a State within the State." Mr Maxwell presided at the 
second day's proceedings, and Mr James Deans, already known 
to the Co-operators of the three kingdoms for his fighting 
capacity, presided on the third day. The Congress was of some 
considerable importance from the Co-operative point of view. 
In the first place. Miss M. Llewelyn Davies raised the whole 
question of the relations between Co-operation and socialistic 
aspirations in a paper which Mr Holyoake described as 
" socialistic." " Labour, Capital, and Consumption " was the 
title of a paper read by Mr E. S. Bycraft ; but interest in 
Co-operative progress in Ireland was aroused in a paper read by 
Mr — ^now Sir — Horace Plunkett, who has recently loomed large 
on the Irish stage. One of the outstanding events of the 
Congress was the launching of a Co-operative lifeboat in the 
Clyde from Glasgow Green. There was a big Co-operative 
productive exhibition in connection with the Congress ; and, 
after the formal opening of the exhibition, the delegates marched 
from the City HaU to Buchanan Street Station where Co-operators 
from aU the surrounding towns and villages were assembhng. 
With banners waving and bands playing, a monster procession 
marched to the Green and, amid a spate of oratory, the Ufeboat 
was launched, the christening ceremony being performed by 
the wife of the manager of the S.C.W.S., Mrs James Marshall, 
and the boat was formally handed over to the representatives 
of the National Lifeboat Institution. The whole business gave 
offence to the opponents of the Co-operative movement chiefly 
because the gathering on Glasgow Green was one of the largest 


in history up till then — if we except the enormous crush that 
was witnessed there at the miUtary review on the occasion of 
Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887. The press had to take notice 
of events so important — first of all the presence in Glasgow of 
Lord Rosebery who, in the eyes of the Glasgow citizens, is the 
most popular sprig that is to be found on the whole tree of 
Scottish nobUity ; and, secondly, the monster gathering on 
Glasgow Green. Another incident in the Congress programme 
brought some pubUcity to the movement. There was an 
exhibition of Co-operative productions, as we have said. It was 
a revelation to the Glasgow press and the Glasgow public to see 
how extensive was the variety of goods produced in Co-operative 
factories. One of the incidents of the Congress was the 
presentation, made to Lord Rosebery by Mr Maxwell, of a 
beautiful writing table made at the Shieldhall cabinet factory. 
It was a work of art, beautifully designed, beautifully executed, 
and gracefully presented ; and it aroused Lord Rosebery's 
admiration. Some of the trade journals published descriptive 
accounts of the exhibition ; and one of the journals representing 
the furniture trade wrote in the most glowing terms of the 
exhibits from the cabinet factory. A magnificent sideboard, 
designed by Mr Alexander Thomson, a member of St George 
Co-operative Society, and made at Shieldhall, elicited a specially 
complimentary reference ; and the productions of the brush 
factory were so exquisite that doubt was expressed as to whether 
they were actually made at Shieldhall. There was no doubt 
about it, of course ; but people engaged in the trade seemed 
to take it for granted that Co-operators could not make first- 
class articles. That error has been brought home to the public 
frequently, in a variety of ways since then. 

Developments were proceeding apace. In 1840 Mr John 
Black, who had inaugurated the Kilmarnock depot, retired, 
and was succeeded by his assistant, Mr William Laird. The 
later years of Mr Black's management had been enlivened by 
a vigorous agitation on the part of the Ayrshire societies to 
have the Kilmarnock depot converted into a branch, like the 
Leith branch, for the sale of goods. Some membei-s of the 
board were eager to retain the depot simply as a collecting 
centre for local produce ; but the Ayrshire Co-operators wanted 
more than that. They wanted to be able to buy at KUmarnock 


what they could buy at Glasgow, and their contention was that 
the Wholesale would benefit by the change inasmuch as 
increased trade would be certain to result. The matter was 
discussed time after time at the Ayrshire Conference until the 
Ayrshire societies reached unanimity in their demands. When 
that stage was reached, they brought the question to the 
quarterly meetings, and there were several battles royal fought 
over the issue. Ayrshire's campaign was led by Mr James 
Deans ; and it is amusing now, after the lapse of so many years, 
to read some of the passages between Mr Maxwell and him, 
especially as the two are among the few surviving links 
between the past generation and ourselves. 

Not satisfied with being mere manufacturers of boots, the 
Wholesale had begun a Currying department, so as to get one 
stage nearer the source of production. The tailoring factory 
had developed so extensively that a new branch of the trade 
was established by the opening, in 1890, of the artisan clothing 
factory. In connection with the drapery warehouse a mantle 
factory was opened in January 1891 ; in April of the same year 
a confectionery works was added to the preserve factory ; and 
three months later, the Wholesale decided that it ought to 
manufacture a great amount of the tobacco it sold, and so the 
tobacco factory was estabhshed, under the control of Mr 
Thomas Harkness, an active member of the Kinning Park 
Society, who was then in charge of a well-known tobacco 
factory in Glasgow. The following year, 1892, saw quite a 
number of important productive factories opened. In the first 
month of the year, four big departures were made. The 
manufacture of coffee essence, then a popular commodity, was 
commenced at Shieldhall on a scale which proved utterly 
inadequate before very long. The chemical department at 
Shieldhall was another of the four new departments which began 
business in this year. It was a small venture then, and its 
operations were extremely limited ; but, before many years, it 
was destined to play a big part in the development of Co-operative 
trade and in upholding the rights of Co-operators. The establish- 
ment of the engineering department was almost a natural result 
of the establishment of a building department. The engineering 
department undertook the repairing of a good deal of the 
machinery in use in the society's premises ; it was responsible. 


too, for the fitting of plant; and, later, became responsible 
for the construction of plant and some of the society's structural 
work. Ham curing was already one of the occupations of the 
S.C.W.S., and, in 1892, a sausage factory was established, which 
has come to fill an important place in the Wholesale's productive 
activities. The tanning of leather was added to the currying 
at Shieldhall, and ground, with buildings, was bought at Adelphi 
Street, Glasgow, and utilised for the Parkview boot factory, 
which specialises in children's boots and shoes. A pickle factory 
was added to the group known as the productive grocery 
departments. The cartwright department was established in 
1894, and the same year witnessed quite the biggest venture 
embarked upon up till then — the inauguration of the Chancelot 
Mill, probably the most handsome flour mill in the world. This 
enterprise had its origin in the speeches of some of those who 
took part in the preliminary meetings held to discuss the possi- 
biUty of forming a Wholesale Society. To those men the 
acquisition of a flour mill seemed to be one of the first duties of 
the proposed society. The time that elapsed before that 
suggestion took practical shape was not lost. The Wholesale 
had followed the practice of buying for an ascertained market, 
and the same rule governed its ventures in production. 
Frequently the subject of milling was introduced at quarterly 
meetings, but it was not till February 1891 that the directors 
formulated a scheme for the production of flour and meal. At 
that time the Wholesale was selling to its society members 
180,000 bags of home flour per annum, or 4,000 bags per week. 
They decided to take measures to mill 4,000 bags per week, and 
so they outlined their proposal to have a large mill in the East 
of Scotland and another large mill in the West. The East came, 
first in the realisation of the plan. Three acres of land were 
secured at Bonnington, Edinburgh, and the first sod was cut in 
January 1892. A great demonstration was held in August of 
the same year to celebrate the laying of the memorial stone, 
when nearly 20,000 Co-operators, accompanied by a dozen 
bands, marched from the Leith Links to the site of the new mill. 
The Wholesale directors and managers, representatives of the 
English Wholesale Society and of the Co-operative Union, and 
a number of other specially invited guests, rode in carriages at 
the head of the procession, and, so large was the concourse of 


people that the carriages had left the starting-place half an hour 
before it was time for those at the rear of the procession to move 
from the Links. There has rarely been such a procession in 
Leith. The opening of the mill in August 1894 was an occasion 
of special rejoicing, and the ceremony was carried out in a 
magnificent style. After an address from Mr Maxwell, who was 
iiaturally jubilant over the triumph represented by the acquisi- 
tion by Co-operators of such an establishment, the steam was 
turned on by Mrs Maxwell. The description of the ceremony 
recorded that " The wheel regulating the throttle valve was tied 
with a blue ribbon, to which was attached a handsome jewelled 
bangle. When this had been placed on Mrs Maxwell's wrist, she 
turned the wheel, not without exerting some strength, and the 
great fly-wheel began to revolve, slowly at first, then fast, pimid 
ringing cheers." Sir James Russell, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, 
assisted Mrs MaxweU in this part of the ceremony. Mr Mitchell, 
the C.W.S. chairman, and Messrs Tweddell and Sutherland, 
his colleagues on the C.W.S. board, were among the guests at 
the gathering. The mill was capable of producing twenty-five 
sacks of flour per hour, or 3,500 per week, but it was built for a 
larger trade. It seemed an enormous undertaking for the 
Wholesale to equip a mOl of such capacity then, but, when the 
1914 war broke out, the Society's mills were turning out about 
12,000 sacks of flour and meal per week. 

We have already seen something of what the Traders' 
Defence Association had attempted in the year of the Wholesale 
Society's coming-of-age. The progress which the movement 
was making, and which has been set forth in this chapter, could 
not continue without arousing hostility. There was " sniping " 
of all sorts going on in the columns of the Scottish newspapers— 
particularly the evening newspapers — ^in 1893 and later. The 
Traders' Defence Association itself, after the failure of Mr 
Walker's encounter with Mr Deans, had refrained from coming 
prominently into the limelight ; but its hand was being forced. 
By 1895 the Wholesale Society had command of nearly a 
milUon and a quarter of capital, and its sales touched three and 
a half million pounds. That made the S.C.W.S. a formidable 
institution ; but it was only the central organisation of the 
Scottish societies, which had almost four millions of capital, sales 
exceeding ten and three-quarter millions, and, in that one year. 


had disbursed as dividends to their members a sum of almost 
a million and a quarter. These societies, unlike individuals in 
trade, took no steps to conceal their prosperity. Their share- 
holders' meetings in some villages and towns afforded excellent 
copy for the local newspapers, not because the papers were 
disposed to favour Co-operation, but because in many places 
nearly every householder in the community was a member of the 
society, and was entitled to speak at the meetings. The news 
value of such meetings was considerable, as the proprietors and 
the editors fully recognised. The same thing, though perhaps 
in a lesser degree, applied to the larger towns. Balance-sheets 
were freely sent to the newspapers, and, as the average 
Co-operative balance-sheet is generous to a fault in the wealth 
of detail it supplies to the reader, the most minute details 
regarding the business of the societies were brought before the 
eyes of the critics on the papers to be commended or questioned 
at wUl. There was rarely criticism of an unreasonable character, 
and only rarely was there any lavish commendation ; but, on 
the whole, the one fact that was apparent to the staffs of the 
papers was the steady growth of the local society — growth which 
aroused interest in some cases and even caused some Uttle 
amazement. The repeated tale of progress quarter after quarter 
alarmed the traders, and they could ill afford to keep silence, 
even if they fully reahsed that, " if they were to stud every hill 
in Scotland with a Robert Walker, the Co-operators of Scotland 
would be able to put alongside of him a James Deans," as Mr 
Scott, of Newbottle, had said at the majority celebrations. The 
" letters to the editor " began to grow more numerous, till at the 
beginning of 1896 these communications — few of which were 
signed with the names of the writers — were so common, and 
their contents so similar, that it was perfectly clear that they 
were being organised. 

There were three distinct classes of people eager to stop 
Co-operative progress. In the first place, there were the shop- 
keepers, who saw their customers leaving them to join the 
Co-operative stores ; in the second place, there were the agents 
and wholesale firms, that had no reason to complain till the 
S.C.W.S. began to grow and to sell goods that they used to sell 
to the societies ; and, in the third place, there were the manu- 
facturers, who were eager for the trade of the Co-operators, and 


willing to sell to the societies or to the Wholesale, but who were 
shrewd enough to observe that, if the growth continued and 
productive enterprises grew, they themselves might be the next 
to be dispensed with. Each section of this triple alliance issued 
its challenge to the Co-operators. Those shopkeepers, who were 
banded together in the Traders' Defence Association — a body 
which was considerably less representative of the trading class 
than it pretended to be — organised a boycott of individual 
Co-operators. An individual trader, a Mr Gilchrist of Glasgow, 
issued a circular in May 1896, urging fellow-traders to resolve 
that, on and after a certain date, they would " not employ in 
any capacity whatever any person, young or old, who is in any 
way, whether relative or otherwise, connected in the most remote 
degree with any so-called Co-operative society which carries 
on trading, either wholesale or retail." It was also to be an 
article of faith that those who gave their adhesion to this 
covenant should not buy from any firm who had any transactions 
with any Co-operative dealers. The Traders' Defence Association 
resented this individual's attempt to arrogate to himself the 
prerogatives of the association ; but the Traders' Defence 
Association had to move, and so it, in turn, issued a circular, 
which was published in the Glasgow Evening Times of 25th 
May 1896. The circular urged that immediate steps should be 
taken against Co-operation, and a notice was enclosed with each 
circular sent out, the intention being that the notice should be 
displayed in the business premises of the party to whom it was 
sent. The following is the text of the notice : — 

" All employees, who are directly or indirectly connected with 
any co-operative society, must cease to have such connection 
before ... if they wish to retain their employment, or accept 
this intimation in lieu of the usual notice to leave." 

The legality of this proceeding was a matter for careful con- 
sideration by Co-operative organisations ai the time, and it 
was apparently also a matter that gave some little anxiety to 
the Traders' Defence Association, for Mr Robert Mowat, 
president of the Traders' Defence Association, who signed the 
circular, was careful to point out to the addressee that " you 
must understand that it is left solely to your own discretion 
as to whether you should use the notice." These incidents 
mark the beginning of the campaign known as the 1896 boycott. 


So far as the shopkeepers were concerned, we believe it is correct 
to say that the larger men in business were not particularly 
concerned about this crusade. They had the impression that 
they could beat the Co-operative societies by orthodox business 
methods, and, frequently, Traders' Defence Association speakers 
and writers upbraided the bigger shopkeepers who would not 
associate themselves with the somewhat contemptible tactics 
resorted to by the Traders' Defence Association. 

Some of those who were concerned in this form of the boycott 
were ashamed of those tactics, and it might possibly be denied 
that anything in the nature of individual persecution was resorted 
to. It is weU, therefore, that we should cite typical cases that 
occurred, and that were catalogued by the Co-operative Vigilance 
Association, of which the chairman and secretary respectively 
were Mr Peter Glasse, of the S.C.W.S. board, and Mr James 

In Uddingston the sons and daughters of a number of members 
were dismissed by local merchants by whom they had been 
employed. In one case the person dismissed was a boy working 
for 5/ per week, and who was employed by Messrs Thomas 
Nesbitt & Sons, who wrote to the boy's father as follows :- — 

Havelock Place, 
Uddingston, 27th June 189fi. 
Mr Gaughan, 

Dear Sir, — On account of the attitude of traders and co-operation 
I have to inform you that Bertie works his warning to leave next 
Saturday. This action is not arbitrary, only in defence of our trade, 
which by the present system of dividends is being ruined, and also 
the country, and our sons' and daughters' welfare are at stake. — I am, 
yours truly, Thomas Nesbitt & Sons. 

Robert Ritchie, aged fifteen, an apprentice grocer, was 
dismissed because his father was a member of the Strathaven 
Society. Another lad of the same age, employed in an iron- 
mongery shop, was' dismissed because his mother (a widow) was 
also a member of the Strathaven Society. In both cases the 
parents got the option of withdrawing from the society as an 
alternative to the dismissal of their children. 

The shopkeepers identified with the Traders' Defence 
Association used their influence with manufacturers to secure 
the dismissal of Co-operators and their sons and daughters. 
In May 1896 Messrs Scott, preserve makers, Carluke, summoned 


a meeting of their workers, and intimated that those who were 
members of the Co-operative store must give up the store or 
leave their work. They explained, in a letter to the society, 
that necessity was laid upon them in the action they took. A 
good many of their workers, who resented the ultimatum, never- 
theless found it necessary to give way. The two daughters of 
the secretary of the society, who would not do so, were dis- 
missed from their work. 

An organisation professing to represent the great trading 
interests of the country might have been expected to prove by 
trade methods the weakness of Co-operation, but its adoption 
of the policy of securing the dismissal of widowed charwomen, 
and of the children of widows, because of a family association 
with the Co-operative store, exposed the hoUowness of their 
case. The Co-operators had to accept the challenge, however. 
Railway companies that threatened the dismissal of Co-operators 
were met with a threat to transfer Co-operative traffic, and it 
usually sufficed. "V^Tiere dismissals by shopkeepers and others 
engaged in ordinary trade did occur, efforts were made by the 
local societies to find employment for those displaced, and, if 
they did not succeed, the Wholesale Society frequently found 
employment for the victims. A young man ordered to hve at 
the seaside went to Ayr and found a situation. He was 
dismissed at the instance of the boycotters because his parents 
were connected with a Glasgow society. He found another job, 
and his persecutors again secured his dismissal. The Co- 
operative Vigilance Association took the matter up, and, as a 
result of their intervention, the Kilmarnock Society estabUshed 
its first Ayr branch, and, in Ayr, the society is now doing a trade 
of £130,000 per annum. A few years later, when a local baker 
attempted to revive a boycott in Ayr, his fellow traders quietly 
pointed to the trade that was going into Co-operative channels 
in Ayr because of earlier stupidity of that sort, and quietly 
hinted that he should desist. Similar causes brought Co- 
operative stores into existence later in Dunoon and Helensburgh, 
and that method of boycott failed generally because of the 
resolute action of the retail societies, backed by the Wholesale 

A more skilful, though equally unfruitful, attempt at boycott 
was made by the Fleshers' Association of Glasgow. The first 


"blow was struck when a notice was exhibited in the Dead Meat 
Market in Glasgow, intimating that, in accordance with the 
resolution passed at a mass meeting of master fleshers in the 
Glasgow Trades Hall on 25th June (1896), " from and after this 
date no Co-operative society will be supplied at this establish- 
merlt." All the salesmen, except two or three, agreed not to 
deal with Co-operative societies. The superintendent of the 
market, which was the property of the whole of the citizens, 
ordered the notice to be taken down ; but that made no 
difference, because the salesmen, members of the association, 
abided by the resolution. That was the spirit displayed in the 
Dead Meat Market. The salesmen there would not only decline 
to sell to any representative of a Co-operative society, but 
decided that they would have no dealings with anybody who 
would sell to a Co-operative society. According to reports of a 
meeting held on 23rd March 1897, Mr Roderick Scott stated that 
the object of this campaign was " to close the fleshing depart- 
ments of the Co-operative societies.' Mr D. MTntyre, of 43 
Candleriggs, Glasgow, writing to the convener of the markets 
committee of the Glasgow Corporation on 26th March 1897, 
protested against the attempt of the majority of the salesmen to 
coerce those who would not sign a pledge of their refusal to deal 
with Co-operative societies. He claimed to have purchased 
more meat than any individual, or firm, in Glasgow through the 
Meat Market. 

Things were no better at the Cattle Wharf sales. The 
Glasgow Herald of 29th March 1897 contained an advertisement, 
by " Roderick Scott, auctioneer," relating to the sale of 150 
prime States cattle, in which it was announced that " No Co- 
operative societies, or persons selling to or deaUng with 
Co-operative societies, directly or indirectly, will be allowed 
to bid." The Cattle Market, like the Dead Meat Market, was 
the property of the citizens, and was provided for the good of 
all the citizens. It was a violation of the civic rights of Co- 
operators to be refused the use of the markets in this fashion, 
and the Town Clerk intervened, in a letter to Mr Roderick Scott 
on 6th April 1897, to point out that the exclusion of bona fide 
bidders would be illegal. 

This action on the part of the fleshers and the meat and 
cattle salesmen challenged the Co-operators at two points. It 


challenged them as citizens who were entitled to free access to 
the public markets, and it challenged them to find cattle and 
meat in defiance of the boycotting butchers. In 1896 the 
Glasgow Co-operators worked, in conjunction with the trade 
unionist. Labour, and Irish Nationalist organisations, to secure 
the election of members of the Corporation pledged to secure 
fair play for the citizen-Co-operators ; and the result of the 
combination was the election of a number of democratic members, 
who became known in the Town Council as the " Stalwart 
Party." Similar methods were adopted by the Co-operators 
in other districts ; public meetings were held in all the towns 
where the boycott was being attempted, and the societies in 
Scotland formed a defence fund of £20,000. The Co-operative 
VigUance Association did excellent work at that time, and Peter 
Glasse and James Deans, particidarly, were ceaseless in their 
efforts to organise the defences of the movement against every 
stratagem adopted by their opponents. The methods adopted 
by either side did not lack vigour ; but the traders — fleshers and 
others — ^took serious exception to a manifesto issued by the 
Vigilance Association (in reply to the Gilchrist circular) in which 
it was stated that " the object of our (Co-operative) enterprise 
is to eUminate the principle of individuaUsm from trade and 
commerce." They made emotional appeals to the public to 
reaHse that the Co-operators meant " to eliminate the traders," 
forgetting that the traders, from the nature of their competitive 
system, were seeking to eliminate each other. The battle for 
the recognition of the civic rights of Co-operators succeeded ; 
and, in 1897, the Glasgow Corporation — thanks to the efforts of 
the Co-operative organisations and their friends — passed by-laws 
regulating sales in the public auction rings of the city markets. 
These by-laws required every auctioneer to accept bona fide 
bids, and prescribed penalties for \'iolation of this regulation. 
The fleshers did not like this. They refused to recognise the 
right of the Corporation to compel salesmen to sell to people 
to whom they did not want to sell ; and appeal followed appeal 
till, finally, the House of Lords declared that the by-law was 
competent, and that the Corporation was entitled to enact it. 
The boycotters then ceased to conduct public auctions, and sold 
their cattle in private rings. The problem of supplies of meat 
for the Co-operators was one which had to be solved by the 


Wholesale Society. Local societies began to buy from local 
farmers, and the fleshers and salesmen did their best to organise 
a boycott by the farmers. In that they failed. The Wholesale 
Society's cattle buying department was a valuable asset to the 
Co-operators in the large towns. The head of the department — 
Mr W. Duncan — ^had put the resolution of the fleshers to the 
test, and had bid £20 for an animal at the " anti-Co-operative 
sale," to which we have already referred. The bid was refused 
on his giving an afBrmative answer to the question : " Do 
you represent the Co-operative Wholesale Society ? " An action 
for damages was taken by the society against Mr Roderick Scott 
for his refusal to accept the bid ; but, as that was prior to the 
passing of the by-laws, the case went against the Society. An 
action was then taken against the Fleshers' Association for 
conspiring with the cattle salesmen to damage the trade of the 
S.C.W.S. by refusing bids, but the case was dismissed by Lord 
Kincairney in 1897. 

In the meantime, the Wholesale, while seeking to uphold 
its legal rights, had not neglected practical measures. Direct 
weekly consignments of cattle were arranged for in Canada ; and 
these, arriving regularly, enabled the societies to meet the 
demands of their members. The Wholesale Society discharged 
its duty admirably. Its resources were taxed because a number 
of retail societies, that had found it more convenient to purchase 
at local markets, were compelled by the boycott to purchase 
through the Wholesale Society's buyers.^ The Wholesale was 
equal to the occasion. It had to enable the retail societies to 
sell the best quality of beef, as they had been accustomed, at 
prices which would enable them to compete with private fleshing 
shops. At first this involved some little loss, but the societies 
were able to keep their fleshing business going in defiance of the 
iron ring of boycotters, and, before long, the trade was as profit- 
able as ever. The fleshers congratulated themselves in their 
public assemblies, bvit the success with which they were 
circumvented caused their mirth to have a hollow ring. 

The net result of this boycott was that the inconvenience to 
which it was intended to subject the Co-operators of Scotland 
affected the whole population of the industrial centres. The 
dispute destroyed Glasgow as an open market. For months and 
for years afterwards the revenues from sales were so far short 


of meeting the expenditure upon the market that very heavy 
losses were recorded in the municipal accounts. Canada and 
the United States practically stopped sending cattle to Glasgow. 
There would, of course, have been a decrease in the number of 
foreign cattle arriving, because, in 1896, the Government 
imposed restrictions upon the importation of cattle arriving at 
British ports, by enacting that animals, which were formerly 
sent to the fields to be fed and fattened must be no longer used 
that way lest they might infect home herds with disease, but must 
be slaughtered before they were removed from the wharf of 
disembarkation. This would have led to a diminution of the 
supphes, but it would have affected aU ports engaged in the 
cattle trade. The detrimental effect of the boycott was proved 
by the fact that many of the cattle formerly consigned to 
Glasgow were consigned to Liverpool and London ; and Mr 
Roderick Scott, at a meeting of the Glasgow Town Council, in 
the writer's own hearing, admitted that the strife had the effect 
of increasing the price of beef by ^d. per lb. It had also the effect 
of increasing the municipal rates by ijd. per £ to make good the 
loss of municipal revenue occasioned at the city's wharves and 
markets. This extra Jd. per £ in prices was due to carriage 
having to be paid from Liverpool, and it was calculated that 
the loss to the citizens on this account equalled ^f 300, 000 per 
year. The loss on the cattle wharves through falling revenue 
in one year alone was £21,000. In addition to that Mr Roderick 
Scott admitted that shipowners lost about £100,000 a year 
in freights. So that the whole city suffered heavily from the 
boycott. From a commercial point of view, the Co-operators 
had not much to complain of eventually. The Wholesale 
organised its trade to such excellent purpose that the meat trade 
of the societies began to grow enormously ; and, from that 
period, it was no uncommon thing to find people who were not 
members of the store purchasing their meat there, and becoming 
members because of the excellent quaUty of the meat sold in 
the stores. It is doubtful if there is a single society in the West 
of Scotland which has not had that experience. 

The boycott had another effect. It created such a wave of 
loyalty on the part of Co-operators determined not to be beaten ; 
it led to such widespread discussion of the respective merits of 
Co-operative and competitive trading ; and it aroused so much 


general resentment against the tactics of the traders and 
fleshers — even in the editorial columns of the newspapers — that 
it increased the membership, capital, and trade of the societies 
very considerably. For example, the trade of the Wholesale 
Society alone for 1897 showed an increase of 15-2 per cent, over 
the trade of 1896. The trade of 1896 was io-8 more than that 
of 1895 ; and 1895 showed an increase of i2-8 over 1894. The 
trouble had begun in 1895, and reached its climax in 1897. The 
trade of the Wholesale for 1897, in sterling, was £1,349,272 more 
than for the year 1894. In other words the increased trade 
derived by the S.C.W.S. during those three years when the 
opposition was so bitter exceeded the total amount of annual 
trade reached after sixteen years' operations. How the societies 
in Scotland generally were affected may be gathered from the 
fact that, in 1894, their total membership was 229,409, the 
capital held by them was £3,596,516, and their total sales com- 
bined were £10,115,126 ; the corresponding figures for 1897 
were respectively 276,053, £5.323.923. and £13,669,417 ; or, to 
summarise, those three years brought increases of 46,644 in 
membership, £1,727,407 in capital, and £3,554,288 in trade. As 
a corporate body, it will be admitted, the Co-operators had 
little to complain of. 

A more audacious challenge came to the Wholesale Society 
from people of bigger calibre than the fleshers or the shop- 
keepers, although the challenge was no doubt prompted by these 
smaller fry. Fortunes had been spent in advertising soaps of 
various brands by some of the largest firms of manufacturers 
in the country. These firms, not content with fixing the price 
that their customers must pay for their soap, also fixed the 
price at which their customers must sell the soap to the people 
who supported their shops. There was a standard retail selling 
price for some of these brands, and Co-operative societies, we 
believe, kept to that price as other people did. The proprietors 
of the stores, who were, of course, the people who bought the 
goods in the stores, believed they had a right to do as they pleased 
with their profits, and the profits on their soap trade went into 
the dividend as did the profits on their butter trade. It was 
very probably owing to the representations of shopkeepers that 
the firm in question attempted to lay down the ultimatum 
that no dividend must be allowed upon soaps of its brands. It 


was an absurd position to take up for two reasons. In the first 
place, the profit would continue to be made on the soap ; and,, 
if dividend was not to be paid on soap purchases, the 
dividend available for distribution on general purchases would 
have been proportionately larger, and the net result to the 
purchaser would have been the same. It was also absurd, in view 
of the protests that commercial men have raised against the 
entire system of controlling prices, to which the Government 
has had recourse during the war, because one of the excuses for 
the making of millions of excess profits has been that the people 
engaged in trade were forced to make profits in spite of them- 
selves, and that the control of prices therefore meant that the 
pubhc were compelled to pay more than was necessary for their 
goods. Many of the arguments used by traders since the war 
began have disposed of the arguments they were accustomed 
to use before the war. 

The attitude of the Co-operators was one of resentment when 
this firm attempted to lay down the law as it did ; and the 
"Wholesale Society's reply was to close the account with the 
firm rather than submit to its dictation. The English Wholesale 
had begun soapmaking on a big scale in 1891, alfhough it had 
been doing a little from 1874, and the two Wholesales saw eye 
to eye upon the need for resenting interference of that kind. 
The shareholders backed up the Wholesale directors, and a 
number of the societies stopped selling the products of the firm 
in question. The movement was determined that their collective 
power would be. used to prevent the millionaire soapmakers 
from adding to their profits at the expense of the working- 
people for whom the societies catered. What could be, spared 
of the products of the C.W.S. works at Irlam was taken by the 
S.C.W.S., and eventually the S. C.W.S. established its own works 
at Grangemouth, where remarkable success has since been 
achieved. The soap manufacturers made every effort to prevent 
these works from succeeding. The system of giving presents, or 
prizes, for soap wrappers, a system that showed to what depths, 
competition had sunk, was extensively developed and extensively 
advertised. It had the effect of retaining custom for the big 
firms for a time, but the absurdity of the system at length 
appeared to people, who recognised that the presents could only 
be paid for by the people who bought the soap ; and Co-operators. 


were among the first to see that the truer economy was to abstain 
from making profits for the soap kings, and to buy bicycles or 
whatever other presents they wished with the money the}' saved. 
The support given to the Wholesale by the retail societies in this 
matter reflects the greatest credit upon many of them. Some 
of the largest societies, societies that did a very considerable 
trade in the popular brands, resolved that they would not sell 
these brands in the stores, and that, if members would ask for 
them, they would be ad\'ised to take their own makes from their 
own works. One of the most interesting stages of the fight was 
when a society would have notice of a resolution printed on the 
agenda for its members' meeting. Frequently, in such cases, 
there would be a special staff of advertising agents, bDl deliverers, 
and sample distributors put on to the district concerned by 
several of the largest firms in the trade, in order to secure the 
defeat of the motion. When societies did pass a resolution to 
exclude these soaps from their stores there were always some 
members who still wished to procure supplies ; but they had 
to find them elsewhere. They argued that it was the duty of a 
Co-operative society to provide what its members wanted ; but 
the loyal members replied that it was not the duty of a 
Co-operative society to use its stores for the sale of goods made 
by firms who were out for the purpose of rendering Co-operative 
productive factories unprofitable. In most cases, resolutions 
to confine the sales to Co-operative productions led to a slight 
faUing-off in the sales of soap ; but in most cases, also, it 
happened that that was only a temporary state of things, and 
in the end the Co-operative productions came into their own. 
On the whole, the societies handsomely backed up the Whole- 
sale's acceptance of the challenge of the big producers, and the 
Grangemouth soap works are now the largest soap works in 
Scotland, producing exclusively for the Scottish trade. 

Despite all these efforts to restrict Co-operative progress, 
and despite the added responsibihties that these challenges 
imposed upon the Wholesale, the Wholesale Society forged 
ahead, and carried the whole movement to fresh achievements 
in the realm of production. The Ettrick Tweed MiUs, started 
at Selkirk by a few Co-operative enthusiasts who formed the 
Scottish Tweed Manufacturing Society in 1890, was purchased 
by the S.C.W.S. in 1896. The Wholesale had been purchasing 


almost the whole of the society's productions, and it seemed 
only natural that, under such circumstances, the Society should 
own the mills. The matter was amicably arranged at last, 
although there were a few strenuous Co-operators — Mr W. E. 
SneU, for example — who were opposed to the idea, and who 
thought the mill should still be carried on by the Tweed Society. 
A waterproof factory was established in June 1896, in which a 
highly successful trade has been built up for the societies 
connected with the two Wholesales. 

The tobacco factory was extended to double its productive 
capacity in 1897, and the cabinet factory was also extended in 
the same year. One of the most important productive ventures 
was the purchase of the Junction meal and flour mills at Leith, 
which had belonged to Messrs John Inglis & Sons. The mills 
there had equipment for the production of 700 bags of oatmeal 
weekly, the flour mill being set aside then for the preparation 
of semolina and kindred foodstuffs. The directors secured with 
the miUs about an acre of ground, upon which further productive 
departments were erected later ; but there still remained the 
desire for a flour miU in the West of Scotland, for which there 
was ample work. A year later saw the opening of the butter 
factory at EnniskUlen, with four auxiliary depots for the 
collection and separation of milk. The aerated water factory 
was commenced at Glasgow in October 1897, and a similar 
factory was opened at Leith in 1898. A creamery, established 
at Bladnoch, Wigtownshire, was opened in February 1899, and 
there was laid the foundation of what promised to be an 
extensive margarine factory. One of the most important 
departures of the year was the establishment of the fish-curing 
station at Aberdeen. This department has succeeded admirably. 
The first station had to be enlarged soon after it was opened. 
The next extension required was so large that a new site had to 
be found, and a new building erected, and even that became 
too small in less than two years. The department, with the 
financial resources of the Wholesale behind it, can secure always 
the pick of the fish, and goods to the value of over a mUlion and 
a quarter have passed through it since it was established. 

This is surely a wonderful record of productive developments* 
to follow upon a period of virulent boycott ; but distributive 
* For details see Descriptive Section. 


developments had also taken place. The Carbrook Mains Farm 
was leased for the stocking of cattle. Property in Chambers 
Street, Edinburgh, was purchased for a branch of the furniture 
department, and was formally opened in 1898 ; ground was 
purchased in Paterson Street and Dundas Street, Glasgow, for 
factories and stables. The biggest venture of all was the 
purchase of the old fair ground in Morrison Street, between 
Crookston Street and Clarence Street, upon which were erected 
the magnificent buildings which constitute the headquarters of 
the great federation.* 

The new building, one of the most ornate in Glasgow, was 
opened with great ceremony on 2nd January 1897, and the 
demonstration that took place directed public attention, in a 
remarkable way, to the great strength of Co-operation in 
Glasgow. The proceedings took the form of a huge procession 
of over 300 vehicles, in the foremost of which were seated 
directors of the Scottish and EngUsh Wholesale Societies, 
members of the Scottish Section of the Co-operative Union, 
representatives of the district Co-operative conference associa- 
tions, and delegates from many Scottish societies. Messrs 
R. Holt, T. E. Moorhouse. J. Clay, J. Goodey, G. Binney, and 
T. Rule represented the C.W.S. ; Mr C. Fielding represented 
the tea department ; and Mr Jackson represented the C.W.S. 
boot department. Mr S. Kenyon represented the Central Board 
of the Co-operative Union, and Mr M. Haworth represented the 
Co-operative Newspaper Society. Following the vehicles 
carrying the officials and delegates were decorated lorries 
representing the numerous departments of the S. C.W.S. and the 
various productive and distributive societies in the city. It 
was the most remarkable demonstration that had taken place 
since the launching of the Co-operative Ufeboat, although 
January is not a month which readily attracts people to outdoor 
demonstration. An interesting fact recorded in the Co-operative 
News report of the scene is that the van of a local biscuit 
manufacturer got in Une with the procession, " but the reception 
accorded to this individuaUstic intruder was anything but 
flattering." The procession paused in front of the new building, 
where a number of the more prominent guests dismounted witii 
Mr Maxwell, the architect, and the S.C.W.S. directors. Mr 
*See Descriptive Section, "The Central Premises." 


Maxwell formally declared the premises open for Co-operative 
purposes amid the cheers of the thousands congregated there. 
Mr Daniel Thomson presided at this part of the proceedings. 
Mr Bruce, of Messrs Bruce & Hay, architects, presented Mr 
Maxwell with a beautiful gold key with which he formally 
opened the doors, and the delegates crowded in to inspect their 
new premises. About 800 aiterwards sat down to dinner at 
which Mr Maxwell presided. There was a note of jubilation in 
his tone when, in proposing " The Queen and the People," he 
said : " Step by step, through many doubts and difficulties, the 
Society has won its way, not only into the confidence of Scottish 
Co-operators, but into the confidence of the commercial world 
at large. Its name on any market is synonymous with absolute 
security and untarnished honour." Among the orators on that 
occasion were some — living and dead — whose names are still 
cherished : James Deans, Henry Murphy, Peter Glasse, John 
Pearson, John GemmeU (of Paisley), Duncan M'CuUoch (of the 
U.C.B.S.), M. Ross (of Cowlairs), Andrew Miller (then secretary 
of the S.C.W.S.), Isaac M'Donald, and John Adam (of the 
S.C.W.S. board), the C.W.S. directors ; and the Glasgow 
Corporation was represented on the toast list by Baihe Alexander 
Murray and Bailie Primrose — afterwards Sir John Ure Primrose, 
Bart. — ^both of whom spoke very cordially.* 

It will be admitted that the strides made by the Wholesale 
in the decade which followed its coming of age were remarkable. 
To have increased the annual turnover from £2,273,782 to 
£5,014,189, and to have plunged into so many productive schemes 
of considerable magnitude was sufficient to startle even Co- 
operators themselves ; for it did seem remarkable that the value 
of the productions transferred from the Wholesale's factories 
should have reached so high a figure as a million per annum. 
The traders had proclaimed a holy war against the movement ; 
the butchers had resolved upon the closing of the fleshing depart- 
ments of the stores ; the soap people had challenged the 
Wholesale. Every challenge had been accepted. Almost every 
new productive department established by the Wholesale meant 
that other makers of goods which these departments turned out 
offered preferential terms to Co-operative societies — ^it was so 
even with margarine when Bladnoch was opened — ^but it made 

* For description of the interesting procession, see Appendix. 


the Co-operators wonder why the same terms could not have been 
given before. During that decade it fell to Mr Maxwell's lot, 
half-year after half-year, to point to the balance-sheet with its 
unbroken record of successes and increases, and to say, as he did 
more than once from the presidential chair : Thus do the 
Co-operators of Scotland answer their opponents. 









In the opening decade of the new century the Wholesale Society 
made strides which improved the position of Co-operation in 
Scotland enormously. The directors were in an excellent 
position to face bigger developments than had hitherto been 
attempted. In the first place, capital had been growing steadily, 
and at the end of 1900 it amounted to more than a million and 
a half, of which a quarter of a million represented shares that 
were transferable and not withdrawable owing to the decision 
of 1894 to increase the value of the share from fifteen shillings 
to twenty shillings — the figure at which it still remains. 
Delegates at quarterly meetings, and delegates at Co-operative 
conferences, were frequently complaining that the capital ought 
to be utilised to a greater extent in Co-operative productive 
enterprises, and while the official view of the board was that 
the surplus capital which was being lent to municipal and other 
local authorities for social purposes was lent on remunerative 
terms, it was a point that was frequently and legitimately 
disputed ; and the directors themselves agreed that the money 
would be better utilised if invested in Co-operative undertakings. 
An important change in the management of the Society had 
been effected. We have already mentioned the trifling rates 
of remuneration given to the directors, in the early days of the 
Wholesale, for their services to the Society and to the movement. 
Although the question of the duties and emoluments of the 
directors formed the text of a remit to more than one special 


committee, the shareholders dedined, steadily, to display any 
lavish generosity upon them, and till 1899 their remunefation 
was paltry considering their responsibilities and the calls made 
upon them to leave their ordinary employment in order, to 
attend to the business of the Society. In 1899 they were allowed 
a retaining fee of £20 per annum, with a special fee of 10/6 per 
full day spent on the Society's business and 5/3 per half-day. 
In the case of the secretary, the retaining fee was £30 instead 
of ^20 ; and the president's retaining fee was £40. Despite 
these miserable rewards, it must be confessed that the directors 
threw themselves into the work of the Wholesale Society with 
amazing fideUty and zeal. These conditions, however, hampered 
the Society. When all was said and done, it was the directors 
who were responsible to the members for the success of the 
business ; it was they who had to weather the storm at the 
shareholders' meeting if a society had a complaint to make or 
if a department showed a loss. The directors could not Uve 
upon these emoluments ; and whUe that was the case it was 
necessary for them to devote some time to their own 
occupations ; and it was at length recognised that it was quite 
possible that they might have to be so occupied when the 
Wholesale's interest had urgent need of their attention. In 
1899, therefore, the shareholders made a change. They put 
the directors upon a footing which gave the Society the first 
caU upon their services ; and it was decided that the president 
should be paid at the rate of £300 per annum, that the secretary 
should receive £250, and that the salaries of the other members 
of the board should be £200 each. Even at that the total 
expenditure of £2,550 on the salaries of directors responsible 
for the conduct of a business with over 5,000 employees and 
doing an annual trade exceeding five miUions was not on the 
side of extravagance. The explanation of the figure fixed, 
however, is not far to seek. It is given almost every time it 
is proposed to increase the salaries of the directors. In 1899 
the bulk of the members of the Co-operative societies would 
probably have wages ranging between 20/ and 30/ per week, 
and they seemed to think £200 a year a sufficient return for 
a fellow-workman who had escaped from the bench or the 
workshop to the boardroom. The important fact, however, 
was that the directors were by that decision made full-time 


employees of the Wholesale. That had a stimulating effect 
upon the board, and there were early evidences of the advantage 
to the Wholesale. 

There were, naturally, ordinary developments upon a small 
scale. The erection of another aerated water factory — the third 
— at Stirhng, in 1901, was one of the first of these. The shirt 
factory, the significance of which we have already referred to, 
had grown, and the production of dress shirts, which was carried 
on in a factory in Leith, erected upon part of the site bought 
when Junction Mill was erected, was another. The chief 
development, however, was that which led to the planting of 
the Wholesale's flag overseas. To deal with this development 
it is necessary for us to turn back a little. We have already 
told how Mr Maxwell in 1884 made a visit to America in 
company with directors of the English Wholesale Society, 
The result of that expedition, for which Mr Maxwell acted as 
secretary, was the establishment of trading relations which 
enabled the Wholesale Society to supply its members with all 
classes of flour that they required. The expenses of the 
mission were met out of a fund established by the two 
Wholesale Societies and known as the American reserve fund. 
All were delighted to see Mr Maxwell back when he appeared 
in the chair in June 1884 ; but, at a subsequent meeting of 
the shareholders, when the expenses appeared in the balance- 
sheet there was a good deal of discussion — as there has 
frequently been since, when such deputations were being 
reviewed. The bill on that occasion had to be paid, and the 
upshot of the discussions was that a resolution was finally 
passed prohibiting the board from expending more than £20 
upon any mission of this kind without first obtaining the 
approval of the quarterly meeting. This was intended as 
simply a discretionary resolution calculated to prevent un- 
necessary profligacy ; but it had the undesirable effect of 
holding back the directors when occasion arose later for missions 
of a similar character. The C.W.S. had established its Rouen 
depot in 1879. A depot had been established at Copenhagen 
in 1881, and another at New York in 1886. In all of these the 
S.C.W.S. had a friendly interest, and goods were bought by 
them for the two Wholesale Societies, the S.C.W.S. paying a 
small commission to the sister federation. A depot had also 


been opened in Hamburg in 1884. The decision of the Scottish 
Wholesale meeting prevented the directors from taking part in 
a deputation which the English Wholesale Society found it 
necessary to send to the Orient to make arrangements for an 
extensive trade in dried fruits — currants, raisins, etc. The 
organisation of the dried fruit trade had been discussed by 
buyers and directors, and Mr Maxwell was an eager advocate 
of steps being taken to enable the Wholesale buyers to get right 
to the source of supply in view of the fact that a great many 
obstacles were being put in their way. Later, when a similar 
mission was despatched to Spain to organise fruit supplies, 
the S.C.W.S. were not able to send a representative in company 
with the C.W.S. directors because of this resolution which 
stood in the books, and because the time for making the visit 
would have passed before the next quarterly meeting took 
place. In 1894 Mr Maxwell paid another visit to the United 
States and Canada, when a joint agent for the two Wholesales 
was estabhshed at Montreal. Mr Adams, a director of the 
Wholesale in 1896, had gone on an expedition to the Continent, 
in connection with the enamelled ware' trade, with Mr MiUer 
of the furnishing department. The following year Mr Daniel 
Thomson, one of the directors, was on an expedition to 
America, particularly in connection with tinned foods and with 
the object of enquiring whether it would be possible for the 
two Wholesale Societies to establish a fish canning centre on 
the Columbia river. It was not deemed advisable at that time 
to take such a step, but the deputation which represented the 
two Wholesale Societies recommended the appointment of a 
responsible agent whose duty it would be to inspect the fish 
bought for the Wholesale Societies in order to ensure that the 
finest qualities only would be sent. In 1889 Mr Isaac M'Donald 
was one of a joint deputation to Denmark and other Continental 
depots. Frequent deputations were also sent to America in 
connection with supplies of raw material for the boot factory ; 
to Scandinavia, where enormous supplies of paper, straw boards, 
and other material required in printing and bagmaking depart- 
ments were purchased; deputations to France in connection 
with millinery goods ; to Germany in connection with a variety 
of products with regard to which the directors deemed it 
essential to satisfy themselves as to trade union conditions. 


wages, and the character of the estabhshments in which the 
goods they were buying were being produced. In short, every 
productive centre, whether agricultural or industrial, was 
visited and explored in the interests of the Co-operators of 
Scotland. In all these missions there was no step taken which 
could be regarded as a productive enterprise. Generally it 
meant the opening up of trading relations with those who 
conducted their business in a fashion which commended itself 
to the Co-operative conscience. At most it meant the opening 
of a depot, or the appointment of an of&cial representative or 

Up till the beginning of the decade with which this chapter 
deals particularly, the business relations between the two 
Wholesale Societies had been based upon an entente cordials 
rather than upon an alliance — to use the phraseology of the war 
period — and in order that their business relations might be 
put upon a more regular basis a legal partnership between the 
two Wholesale Societies was drawn up, signed, and sealed in 
December 1901. The partnership governed particularly the 
tea business : the English Wholesale Society contributing 
three-fourths of the capital and having three-fourths of the 
representation in the tea committee, the Scottish Wholesale 
Society contributing one-fourth of the capital and having one- 
fourth of the representation in the management committee. 
The ink of the deed of partnership was scarcely dry when the 
Co-operative movement became the owner of tea estates in 
Ceylon. It is well, however, that we should see exactly where 
Co-operators stood in the tea trade when that enterprise was 
launched, and Mr James Haslam, of the C.W.S. publicity 
department, puts the matter before us in the following terse 

At the time the two federations of the movement decided to 
invest capital in tea-growing land in the Far East, it might 
have seemed a doubtful and speculative enterprise in which to 
involve the hard-earned savings of the working-classes of the 
United Kingdom. But it was a policy of foresight and courage 
as well as of necessity. That, as will be seen from under- 
mentioned dates, was in the early 'eighties, when Sociahsts with 
their doctrine of the ownership and control of the means of 
production, exchange, and distribution by the people, or the 


State, were condemning the existing system of capital and 
labour with its deplorable social inequalities. Whilst the 
Socialists were condemning, however, the seers of Co-operation 
were constructing on the principle of the collective use of capital. 
This was, and stUl is, the most effective way towards economic 
justice and social reconstruction. A Co-operative member 
whose experience and knowledge of the world's commerce did 
not, perhaps, extend beyond the Umits of the workshop, was 
rather dubious about entrusting the savings of his fellows in 
activities so far away from home. But it was the beginning 
of a pohcy which was indispensable to the success of the future 
trading of the movement, and if there is anything for 
Co-operators to regret about it to-day, it is that it has not been 
apphed more vigorously and comprehensively. The great 
war-time circumstances, through which we have just passed, 
have shown beyond all possible doubt that the most important 
and essential factor in Co-operative trade and commerce is the 
ownership of the sources of raw material. 

The principle of joint ownership since then has rightly 
spread to other operations ; and the necessity of drawing raw 
materials for Co-operative manufacture and consumption has 
been apphed in other parts of the world, including Canada, 
the United States of America, British West Africa, as well as 
in connection with industries at home. This tendency may 
have to be enlarged and strengthened against the growing 
forces of vested interests. 

At the Derby Co-operative Congress in 1884, E. Vansittart 
Neale, one of the best advocates of Co-operation in the history 
of the movement, said : " Man is a spiritual being, and it is 
impossible for him to be enthusiastic about the price of tea 
and coffee." That, nevertheless, was an overstatement of the 
case. The adversaries of the Co-operative movement, the 
multiple shop companies, have proved this on more than one 
occasion. At any rate, the people are interested in the price 
of tea and coffee, and are none the less concerned about the 
quality. Ideals and material necessities must be made to 
blend, or, if kept apart, one or the other will topple over. 

The initial joint considerations of the two Wholesale Societies 
respecting tea take us first of aU to London. The tea trade 
of the movement, by the movement, began in Hooper Square, 


off Leman Street, on ist November 1882. By March of 1883 
it was recorded as a success, and this was further emphasised 
in June of the same year. In the following month, a " P. & 0." 
steamer arrived at London, the world's great tea mart, with 
a large consignment of China tea for Co-operative societies. 
This was an event which Co-operative speakers and writers of 
the day heralded with considerable hope and enthusiasm. It 
created a stir among the tea men of London. Perhaps they 
saw in it more than less experienced Co-operators could perceive. 
In those early days of Co-operative production and expansion, 
the progress of the tea trade had the effect of bringing together, 
for joint action, the S.C.W.S. and the C.W.S. It was owing 
to the conditions then ruling this business, and the practices 
and attitude of other dealers, that the first joint meeting was 
convened, this taking place at Leicester on i8th May 1882. 
Federation had been previously discussed and decided, and it 
was in this year (1882) that the two Societies began to blend 
tea and distribute it. For the last seven weeks of the year 
the sales amounted to 288,579 l^^- 

Advancement followed. The palatial tea premises in Leman 
Street were opened on 2nd November 1887. The original 
building of the joint tea department had been destroyed by 
fire (in December of 1885), the damage being ^36,000, of which 
^28,600 was recovered from insurance companies. For many 
years there was an uphill fight with dealers and merchants who 
gave prizes with tea, consisting of crockery, jewellery, furniture, 
and aU kinds of ornaments attractive to the deluded purchasers. 
Tea buying was the joke of the day in the 'eighties of the past 
century in industrial towns where Co-operators were thickly 
gathered together. In moments of hilarity it was assumed 
that with a pound of two-shilling tea one could obtain a piano, 
just as it was assumed, as previously mentioned, that similar 
rewards would be bom of soap coupons. At any rate, it 
became an exciting trade, and some of the commercial tea 
houses advertised schemes by which buyers of tea could procure 
old-age pensions.* 

The working classes fell to such dodges, and the S.C.W.S. 

* On one of these schemes the Law Courts in 1905 made a declaration 
which may be regarded as the death sentence on similarly absurd and 
reckless schemes. See Chapter XV. 


and the C.W.S. had to face the gigantic task of wooing back 
the people to honest trading, although many societies had to 
imitate the prize tea distributors in order to keep their members. 
Eventually the cut-throat competition drove the joint 
Co-operative tea committee to consider a wider policy. Hints 
were thrown out that they should not only sell tea, blended in 
their own warehouse, but that they should grow it. Propositions 
to buy plantations in Ceylon were reintroduced in the early 
'nineties. Motions to begin this enterprise were listened to 
very dubiously for a long time, and usually collapsed for want 
of courage and faith. A visit was made to India by a deputation 
from the C.W.S. to inquire about the business of tea growing, 
though nothing worth speaking of came of it. But the spirit 
which had originally prompted the enterprise was unconquerable, 
and the first tea estates were purchased in 1902, these being 
known by the name of NugaweUa and Wehgango, consisting of 
399 acares. The yield in the first year was 84,252 lbs. The 
price of the estates was £9,820. The S. C.W.S. and the C.W.S. 
were joint owners ; and it was the first industrial venture overseas 
over which the S. C.W.S. flag floated. 

The question of opening up a special connection in Canada 
for the purpose of getting nearer the producer had been brought 
before the annual joint meeting of the directors and buyers of the 
S. C.W.S. more than once ; but, after a report had been received 
from the S. C.W.S. representatives across the Atlantic, it was 
deemed advisable that nothing further should be done for a time. 
Conditions changed, however. The continued growth and 
developments of the North-West of Canada as a wheat- 
producing country, and the establishment of a grain market at 
Winnipeg, altered the whole conditions of supply affecting a 
particular quality of wheat of which the co-operators were large 
consumers. By 1905 the Wholesale mills were grinding about 
72,000 bushels of wheat per week. Of this amount 50,000 
bushels could be Canadian ; but supplies were interfered with 
by cornering speculators, who held up supplies for prices as 
exorbitant as they could force people to pay. Another factor 
which affected the price was the number of unnecessary agencies 
through which transactions had to pass before the wheat finally 
reached the Co-operative millers. 

The grocery committee of the Wholesale raised the whole 


question again in 1905 at a meeting of the directors ; and the 
result of the deUberations of the board was that Mr W. F. Stewart, 
the commercial manager of the Wholesale mills, and Mr T. C. 
M'Nab, one of the directors, were commissioned to proceed to 
the United States and Canada to investigate and report on the 
whole question of wheat supply on the spot, with a view to the 
S.C.W.S. procuring supplies as direct as possible from the 
producers, or even of becoming producers themselves. The 
deputation sailed from Scotland in September 1905. They 
visited Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Buffalo, and Winnipeg, 
interviewing railway officials, Government officials, emigration 
agents, and land agents, and they made a scrupulous investiga- 
tion of the whole of the conditions affecting the grain trade and 
the land system. The deputation spent the whole of October 
of that year making their inquiries on the spot, and on their 
return submitted a report, in which a number of valuable 
recommendations were made, nearly all of which have now been 
given effect to, at least in part. The recommendations briefly 
were embodied in the conclusion of their report, which read as 
follows : — " Having traced the whole system of wheat handling, 
from the farmer in Canada to the buyer at this side, we are firmly 
convinced that the time has now come when we should open a 
branch at Winnipeg. Other firms have found it advantageous 
to do so, and we are further of the opinion that the proper 
development of such a branch is the establishing of elevators, 
so that the wheat can be brought direct from the grower ; and 
we strongly recommend that the said branch should be 
established before the next harvest. Should the recommenda- 
tion to establish a branch at Winnipeg be adopted. New York 
and Montreal branches would be utilised to secure the necessary 
freight room in the regular steamers ; and, with the supplies of 
wheat to take up same, a considerable saving would be effected 
in present methods. Going further into the question of direct 
supply, and after studying the land question in all its bearings, we 
strongly urge that steps be taken without further delay to secure, 
at least, 100,000 acres of land from the Saskatchewan Land Co. as 
offered. We are thoroughly convinced that the adoption of these 
recommendations would prove of immense benefit, not only to 
the milling department of the S.C.W.S., but also as a safe and 
profitable investment for the surplus capital of the movement." 


The report was considered for some time by the directors, 
who remitted it to the finance committee. Correspondence 
ensued between the board and the representatives of the Govern- 
ment in Canada, and an option had actually been given on a piece 
of land at a given price. It was a big venture to contemplate, 
and meant locking up a considerable amount of money in an 
investment so far away. In any case, before the directors had 
made up their minds that the circumstances warranted the 
expenditure, the time within which the land could be had for 
the price offered had expired, and the opportunity was gone. 
The delegates at several of the meetings criticised the directors 
for having allowed the chance to shp, but the directors claimed 
that their decision had prudence to commend it. While they 
did not carry out the recommendation of the deputation with 
regard to the purchase of the land, other recommendations made 
by the deputation were given effect to almost at once. The first 
step was the establishment of the proposed depot in Winnipeg, 
in order to organise the supphes of wheat required in this country. 
This was opened in August 1906. Mr George Fisher, who had 
been for a long time assistant to Mr Stewart in the mills depart- 
ment, was appointed to undertake the work there ; and Mr 
Macintosh journeyed over to superintend personally the inaugura- 
tion of the book-keeping system, and to complete the financial 
arrangements — ^Mr John Stevenson, of Kilmarnock, one of the 
oldest directors, accompanying him. The extensive purchase of 
wheat throughout the Golden West, in such quantities as the 
Wholesale Society required, necessitated a further step — the 
provision of elevators in which the grain, when bought, could 
be stored pending transport or shipment. The first of the 
Society's elevators were erected in 1908. These have been 
extensively added to since, and the Winnipeg depot, prior to 
war breaking out, received 14^ miUion bushels of grain for ship- 
ment to this country. The original elevators were planted 
along the railway trunk lines, but the Society has gone a step 
further, and there is presently in prospect the erection of huge 
terminal elevators, from which the wheat may be shipped at the 
ports. The Winnipeg venture has proved an enormous boon to 
the Co-operators of Scotland, as will be shown in a later chapter. 
Various other deputations went to Canada in connection with 
the wheat trade, and in connection with also the tinned meat trade. 


the leather trade, and various other concerns in which the move- 
ment was interested. But the question raised by Mr Stewart 
and Mr M'Nab was raised again in a definite form in 1915 by a 
deputation, which consisted of Mr W. F. Stewart again, Mr 
Paisley, the manager of Chancelot Mill, and Mr W. R. Allan, a 
member of the board, who recommended once more the purchase 
of from 50,000 to 100,000 acres in Canada for wheat growing 
purposes. This recommendation was discussed more vigorously 
than that formerly arrived at by Mr Stewart, and, on this 
occasion, the recommendation was received very much more 
favourably. The whole question of wheat was now beginning 
to agitate the directors of the English Wholesale Society also ; 
and, before any final settlement was arrived at, it was arranged 
that the whole question of wheat buying in Canada, and the 
question of joint ownership of the S.C.W.S. depot at Winnipeg 
and the C.W.S. depot at Montreal and New York might be 
considered at the spot by a deputation representing the two 
Wholesale boards. The Scottish Wholesale Society was repre- 
sented on this commission by Messrs StirHng and Bardner. 
After an extended visit to Canada and the States, they came 
back more enthusiastic than the first deputation for the purchase 
of land. When the joint deputation returned from the States 
and Canada, the two boards agreed to defer, for further con- 
sideration, the question of joint ownership of the Overseas 
depots until more normal times arrived ; but it was mutually 
agreed to purchase 10,000 acres of land known as the Wietzen 
Farm, near Saskatoon, it being expressly stated in the joint 
minute that this was to be " a first instalment of co-operatively 
owned land in Canada." This step is recorded here a little in 
anticipation of its proper period ; but it is not out of place, 
because it is the partial fruition of the efforts of Mr Stewart and 
Mr M'Nab, whose investigations led to the estabHshment of the 
Winnipeg depot, and whose report gave rise to highly interesting 
discussions throughout the movement with regard to the owner- 
ship of the land. The purchase of the Weitzen Farm was 
completed in December 1916. 

Thus was the S.C.W.S. flag first carried overseas — ^first to 
Ceylon and then to Canada. It floats now in Africa ; but that 
is another story, which must do credit to its own decade in this 


Reluctance to interrupt the record of the events which led 
the Society overseas has compelled us to defer till this late part 
of the chapter an event of more than passing importance. The 
Society's second manager, Mr James Marshall, who had succeeded 
Mr Borrowman when the Ironworks trouble was most acute, 
retired in igo2 from the service which he entered in 1868 as 
grocery buyer. He had been manager from 1874, and had filled 
the responsible post for twenty-eight of the thirty-four years 
he had been employed by the Wholesale Society. The occasion 
of his retirement was marked by two appropriate acts. One was 
the presentation to him of a purse of sovereigns and a handsome 
€scritoire from his old friends and associates. The other was 
the voting, by the Society, of a retiring allowance of £150 per 

Many graceful tributes were paid to Mr Marshall at the two 
meetings at which these evidences of esteem and appreciation 
were given. At the quarterly meeting in May 1902, at which 
the directors recommended the granting of the pension, Mr 
Maxwell said it would be very difficult for him to tell the meeting 
what a tower of strength Mr Marshall had been in the early 
days of the Society. The pension was voted, although not 
unanimously. It is only fair to put it on record, however, that 
those who opposed the board's recommendation were not 
actuated by a lack of appreciation of Mr Marshall's services, 
for everyone was ready to acknowledge what the Wholesale 
owed to his strength of character and to his conscientious 
devotion of an able business mind to the great undertakings 
with which the Society was concerned. The reluctance of the 
few to grant the pension was due simply to a desire to have all 
employees of the Society put on the same level. The directors 
had no objection to that ; but Mr Marshall's resignation after 
all those years of service, a step almost forced upon him by an 
affection of the eyes, took place before any general scheme of 
pensions was formulated. In any case, the decision in favour 
of Mr Marshall was wholehearted, and those who hesitated to 
vote for it for the reason stated included some of his sincerest 
admirers. He was the second and last manager appointed by 
the S.C.W.S. He lived in retirement till 1907, when he died at 
his residence in Glasgow, on Saturday, 8th June. The flags at 
the S.C.W.S. flew at half-mast on the following Tuesday, when 








0} 03' 
Q ^ 


the remains of the old veteran were laid to rest in the Craigton 
Cemetery. The funeral was private ; but Mr Maxwell, Mr 
Pearson, and Mr Stevenson represented the directors of the 
Wholesale ; and Mr Marshall's fellow-employees were repre- 
sented by Messrs R. Macintosh, E. Ross, A. Gray, W. Miller, 
D. Gardiner, and W. F. Stewart, all of whom had worked with 
him for many years ; and by Messrs A. Black and R. Gow, who 
were intimately associated with him. It was a first great 
breach in the family, so to speak, for Mr Marshall had been in 
the service almost from the beginning. He took over the 
managership when the Wholesale's trade for the year was no 
more than £384,000 ; he laid down his command when its 
annual sales exceeded £6,000,000. What thoughts he must 
have had when he contemplated the progressive steps which 
led to that change we can only leave to the imagination of the 
reader. Those who assess the utiUty of the S.C.W.S. at its full 
value, and who have gathered something from these pages of 
the magnitude of the crisis from which James Marshall helped 
to extricate it, will endorse the lines which concluded a farewell' 
message written by Mr Miller, the manager of the furniture 
department, when the old pilot left the ship : — 

" When clouds appeared like darkest night. 
Then steadfastness of thee was born." 










One development of considerable importance to societies was 
the appointment, in 1903, of a cattle buyer in Ireland, to 
secure cattle as nearly as possible at the source of supply. In 
various other directions the supply of food was being attended 
to by the Wholesale ; but, so far as the West of Scotland was 
concerned, 1903 was chiefly memorable for the purchase of 
Regent flour mill, on the banks of the Kelvin, within the city 
of Glasgow. As we have already pointed out, the intention of 
the directors was to estabUsh two large flour mills — one in the 
East and one in the West ; but, after the opening of Chancelot 
miUs, nine years had to elapse before the desires of the 
Co-operators were gratified by the acquisition of the western 
mill. Industry had not been at a standstill during these years. 
The Chancelot mill opened with a plant to provide twenty-five 
sacks, of 280 lbs. of flour each, per hour. The Junction mill 
already mentioned, with a capacity of twelve sacks per hour, 
was opened three years later. The Chancelot plant had been 
increased to forty-two sacks per hour before the long-sought 
opportunity arose in the West. The Regent flour mill was 
acquired as a going concern, with miU, plant, warehouse, and 
everything in working order. The mill was not openly exposed 
for sale ; but the directors got to know that it could be bought, 
and their inquiries were made so effectively and the negotiations 
carried through so admirably that the whole transaction, when 


completed, occasioned the greatest surprise to Glasgow citizens. 
The mill occupies a historic site. A mill had stood there 
for centiuries, and had been known as the Archbishop's mill ; 
and the Archbishop's mill and the site were granted to the 
Incorporation of Bakers of Glasgow in 1568 by the Regent 
Moray, who was then in conflict with Mary Queen of Scots. 
Mr James Ness, clerk to the Incorporation when the S.C.W.S. 
purchased the miU, furnished an interesting statement regarding 
its history. He briefly summarised a long story, and we 
summarise his. The traditional story (he said) is that on the 
camping of Regent Moray's troops at Langside prior to the 
famous battle, the bakers of Glasgow, from motives no doubt 
weighty, and, as events proved, judicious, made special 
exertions to supply his troops with bread : that on his return 
to the city after his victory, the gratitude of the "Good 
Regent " showed itself by a grant of the Archbishop's mill on 
the Kelvin, which had then become the property of the Crown, 
together with a piece of ground adjoining. In all probability 
the original grant was made to twenty-six persons, bakers in 
Glasgow, in equal shares, each share being known as a " mill- 
day," and the holder in his turn being entitled to a day's 
grinding at the mill. The shares of mUl-days held by individuals 
were by four separate Dispositions, all dated in the year 1667, 
acquired by the Incorporation. In course of time the original 
mill underwent much alteration and extension. Part of it 
was rebuilt in 1818, and in 1828 the most extensive alteration 
took place, when the eastern portion of the old walls was taken 
down and rebuilt. In 1886 the mUl was burned down, when 
the present structure was erected in its place. With the 
possession of the mills at Partick, the Incorporation of Bakers 
held the unique position of being the only incorporation carrying 
on business as an incorporation. This character it maintained 
tiU i6th August 1884, when it ceased to be — what it had been 
for well-nigh three centuries and a half — a trading incorporation. 
During the year 1883-4 there was a monetary loss of almost 
£250 in connection with the revenues the Incorporation derived 
from the mill. This was caused by the change which had now 
become general in the method of manufacturing flour. Hitherto 
wheat had been ground by miUstones, but the new system of 
grinding by means of chilled iron rollers had been introduced 


into nearly all the flour mills in the city and neighbourhood of 
Glasgow, and it was seen that unless the Incorporation were 
prepared to turn out the now antiquated millstones, and intro- 
duce at great cost the new and more expensive system of 
grinding by rollers, they must contemplate an annually 
increasing loss in working the mill. They had also to consider 
that very few of the members of the Incorporation were now 
making any use of the mill, the practice having become general 
for bakers to purchase the flour they used, rather than, as in 
former times, to buy the wheat and have it ground at the mill. 
In these altered circumstances the Incorporation, after much 
consideration, resolved that they could not continue to risk 
their fortunes in the exigencies of the trade, but would rather 
let the mill, which they did in August 1884. When the mill 
was accidently burned down in 1886, the Incorporation 
determined that they would not build it again, but dispose of 
the site, which was acquired by the then head of the firm, which, 
in turn, sold it to the S.C.W.S. The foundation stone, laid in 
1828, was recovered in 1886 from the debris of the fire, and the 
contents of the bottles were replaced in the foundation stone 
of the present miU when it was erected by the late owners. 
The formal opening of the mill as S.C.W.S. property took place 
in 1904, the ceremony being performed by Mr Isaac M'Donald, 
and the celebrations being no less memorable than those which 
marked the inauguration of other great Wholesale estabhshments. 
The possession of the mUl added 3,500 sacks per week to the 
Society's productive capacity, making a total miUing capacity 
of 10,500 sacks per week. What the output is now will be seen 
in the article relating to the mUls in the pages of the Descriptive 

In May of 1904 the Wholesale completed the purchase of 
the Calderwood Estate as a step towards agricultural develop- 
ments. A few years before authority had been given to the 
directors to purchase two estates, one in Ireland and one in 
Scotland, chiefly for fruit growing purposes ; but the Irish 
scheme was dropped. The Calderwood Estate was one of many 
offered ; but the S.C.W.S., like a municipal corporation, had 
the reputation of being a wealthy body and eager for land, 
and the greatest tact had to be exercised in conducting 
negotiations with regard to purchases of this kind. On more 


than one occasion, when authority had been given to purchase 
property or land for the erection of factories, difficulties were 
put in the way of the directors by those who felt tempted to 
advance prices and by those interested in keeping down the 
productive enterprises of the Wholesale. It was one of the 
penalties the Wholesale had to pay for its democratic provision 
which made it necessary for the directors to seek the approval 
of a quarterly meeting before committing the Society to any 
large responsibiHty. Eventually the estate, probably one of 
the most picturesque in the Scottish Lowlands, fell into the 
possession of the S.C.W.S. For five centuries the estate had 
been the seat of the Maxwells of Calderwood, the first head of 
which family was the second son of the fourth Baronet of PoUok, 
who, in turn, was the descendant of the first Maxwells who 
settled in Drumlanrig where, we understand, they came as 
EngUsh refugees from the Norman invasion. There was a 
sentimental interest attaching to the acquisition of the estate 
by the Wholesale Society in view of the president's nomenclature ; 
but there was a good deal of enthusiasm apart from that because 
of the possibilities in the direction of agricultural and 
horticultural pursuits. The estate comprised eight farms, 
besides the old baronial mansion-house, the romantic glen and 
countless beauty spots, and it covered an area of 1,125 acres, 
for which the Wholesale Society paid over £36,000. The estate, 
besides its agricultural possibilities, was described as being rich 
in coal, ironstone, limestone, sandstone, and whinstone. A 
grand outing, attended by about 700 delegates, took place in 
July 1904 for the twofold purpose of taking formal possession 
of the estate and of letting the representatives of the share- 
holders view the place they could then regard as their own. 
The future use of the mansion-house — the Castle, to give it 
its proper designation — gave rise to a crop of proposals. 
Some suggested that it might be used for a convalescent 
home, others wanted it to be set aside for a residence for 
the use of the beneficiaries of the Co-operative Veterans Associa- 
tion ; it was even proposed to make it an official residence 
for the president — though the president had no sympathy 
with that. It was decided to convert it into a Co-operative 
museum, and an attempt was made to stock it with objects 
of interest ; but it was unsuitable for even that purpose owing 


to tte distance from Co-operative centres, and the exhibits 
were all removed. There was also considerable discussion 
regarding the utilisation of the estate itself and the problem of 
making it pay. Parts of the estate — notably the glen — ^were 
obviously suitable for nothing but pleasure grounds, and the 
Society decided to allow visitors to enjoy the pleasures 
provided that permission was first obtained from the head 
office ; and the result was that for some years large parties 
visited the place during the summer months ; societies and 
Co-operative guilds and employees' associations organised 
excursions there, and this privilege was also taken advantage 
of by literary societies, friendly societies, Simday schools, and 
other similar bodies, fifteen hundred being no unusual number 
of trippers on a summer Saturday. The financial arrangements 
presented some difficulties. The directors, with the approval 
of the societies, wrote down by special depreciation the value 
of the pleasure grounds and so removed a burden of interest. 
Even then the experiment was costly. Money was spent in 
boring for coal ; crops were not always profitable ; and year 
after year the delegates had> occasion to discuss the " losses 
at Calderwood." Before the balance began to appear on the 
right side of the accounts, the Society had lost almost as much 
as it had paid for the estate ; but it must be added that these 
" losses " were arrived at after the Society had depreciated 
annually in accordance with the rules and had charged against 
the accounts the usual interest on the capital employed. 
These " losses " ceased when the present manager, Mr G. G. 
Young, was appointed. 

An important site in Park Street, Kinning Park, was secured 
in 1904 for the provision of buildings to relieve congestion 
elsewhere. There are now established the ham-curing depart- 
ment and sausage factory, and several other departments aUied 
to the central warehouses. The Chappelfield laundry at Barrhead 
was leased in the same year as an auxiliary to the dress shirt 
factory. This was given up four years later, when the PotterhUl 
laundry at Paisley was secured to serve the same purpose. 
Barrhead Co-operators deprecated the transfer of the laundry..;. 
Paisley Co-operators welcomed the establishment of a Wholesale 
department in the town, and the two parties made a battle royal 
over the question. The delegates endorsed the recommendation 


of the directors to make the transfer, and it was made. It 
anticipates the contents of the next chapter, but it may as well 
be stated here as there that the laundry premises were much too 
large for their purpose, but the directors knew that and had in 
their minds the possibility of utilising the space for some other 
enterprise. In 1912 they had the superfluous part of the building 
equipped with modern plant, and transferred to Paisley the 
whole of the dress shirt manufacture — a step which dispensed 
with the transport of the dress shirts from the Leith factory to 
the Paisley laundry before sale. An auxiliary to the drapery 
department was opened in London in 1905, so that the Wholesale 
would be directly kept in touch with the latest movement in the 
drapery, dress, and miUinery trade. Shows of millinery and 
kindred goods are now held there regularly, and representatives 
of the Scottish societies who go there are enabled to examine 
the latest creations as soon as they arrive in London. It is 
perhaps eloquent of the temperate character of Co-operators 
that yet another mineral water factory was started in 1906, that 
of DunfermUne, and only two years later another was secured 
at Kirkcaldy. In the meantime the Society was purchasing all 
the ground it could acquire in the neighbourhood of the central 
premises. A site at the corner of Paterson Street and Morrison 
Street, which adjoined the drapery warehouse, was purchased 
in 1907, and made it possible to bring the drapery warehouse 
to a Morrison Street frontage a few years later. In Ireland ground 
was secured in 1908 for the estabhshment of piggeries, which 
have since done well. The lease of Camtyne farm, secured 
in 1 90 1 for the convenience of the cattle department, was also 
renewed in 1908, which proved to be a memorable year in several 
ways. It witnessed big extensions of the Paterson Street 
clothing and shirt factories. The Paterson Street addition to 
the drapery warehouse was completed, the first of the Canadian 
wheat elevators were erected, and Minto House, in Chambers 
Street, Edinburgh, was purchased for an addition to the furniture 
branch warehouse. It witnessed another development, also, in 
the opening of the Society's first retail branch. 

This £vent was the outcome of a paper read at a special 
Sectional conference in Edinburgh by Mr James Deans. The 
story is told of Mr Deans that one evening he was met by a 
Kilmarnock friend, hurrying away from home. His friend asked 


him where he was going, and he replied that he was going to a 
Co-operative meeting to see if it would be possible to get money 
to start a Co-operative Convalescent Home. The friend 
ridiculed the idea, and remarked : " Ye've aye got a bee in your 
bunnet." A lot of those bees have produced honey enough to 
justify their existence, and a fairly lengthy list might be drawn 
up of Co-operative schemes now in operation which had their 
origin under the Kilmarnock " bunnet." Mr Deans had been 
long enough propagating Co-operation to know the difficulties 
in the way of establishing Co-operative societies in some quarters. 
He also knew, from personal experience, how virulent the traders 
could be at times, and how severely they could make their 
methods bear not upon the Co-operative movement, but — as 
we have already shown — upon individual Co-operators. His 
experience, and the experience of John Barrowman and James 
Wilson, who had acted as propagandists in their time, made it 
clear that in some places it was possible to get people to join a 
society, and purchase their goods from it if a society was formed, 
while it was extremely difficult to get them to take any prominent 
part in establishing a society — their jobs were at stake in many 
places if they did that. Mr Deans's proposition was that the 
S.CW.S. should take premises where no Co-operative society 
existed (or no branch of a Co-operative society), equip and stock 
the premises as a Co-operative store, invite people to give their 
trade and to allow their dividends to accumulate until they could 
take over the whole premises, staff, and stock as a going business. 
This was discussed at the special conference in January 1907 — 
Mr J. C. Gray, the late general secretary of the Co-operative 
Union, read a paper on " International Co-operation " at the 
same conference. The subject was discussed at several district 
conferences, and finally notice of motion was given at a quarterly 
meeting for a special meeting to be held to alter the rules to 
permit of the S.CW.S. entering into retail business. The rules 
were eventually altered, and the first retail branch was established 
in Elgin. It was not the happiest choice, for a Co-operative 
society had formerly existed there, and the absence of success 
from its operations prevented enthusiasm rising. The whole 
subject of retail branches, however, falls to be dealt with later. 
There are other incidents worthy of special note in this period. 
Old age was creeping upon some of the directors. It was true 


theywere selected for periods of two years, and the delegates at 
the quarterly meetings had the power to replace them if they 
chose. Co-operation took a kindlier view of its obligations, how- 
ever, and hesitated to discard its old servants callously — as was. 
seen in the case of the old manager. It is not suggested that the 
efficiency of the directorate suffered from the age of its members, 
but it was borne in upon the delegates that they should be 
prepared for a contingency that might arise in a very few years. 
The subject was raised in concrete form at the Scottish National 
Co-operative Conference in 1906 by Mr James Campsie, M.A., 
of Kinning Park Society, who had been pressing it at local 
meetings for some time. The result of the agitation was that 
a special committee was appointed at the end of 1906 by the 
quarterly meeting to enquire into the whole question of the 
duties, constitution, and emoluments of the directors. 

The committee consisted of nine members representing the 
delegates and three representing the directors, and their first 
business was to resolve themselves into three sub-committees. 
These interviewed the respective sub-committees of the Society, 
saw the routine of the business, held interviews with the 
managers and heads of departments, went round on visitations, 
and had a free hand generally in conducting their inquiries. 
It was considered most reassuring and satisfactory to find each 
of these sub-committees reporting that each section of the 
directorate had adequate supervision of the work entrusted to 
it, and that, so far as administration was concerned, they could 
make no recommendation which, in their opinion, would lead to 
greater efficiency. The findings of these three sub-committees 
completed the first stage of the inquiry entrusted to the special 
committee — namely, the duties of the committee of the society. 

Three other points did the special committee consider in the 
course of the investigation — the method of electing the board 
of the Wholesale, its constitution, and emoluments, and mode 
of retirement. Under each of these it made important recom- 
mendations. As to the constitution of the board, it recommended 
that a director should not hold any other office of profit in the 
movement outside of his own distributive society, though there 
was a proviso that the present directors be allowed to complete 
such appointments as they then held. It recommended that 
" the person who acts as secretary to the board be not a member 


of the board," this being an endorsement of a position assumed 
by the directors themselves some time before, and over which 
there was a good deal of criticism. 

The last points considered by the special committee were the 
emoluments and mode of retirement of the members of the 
directorate, and these they approached in the same level-headed 
manner which was the leading characteristic of their work from 
the commencement. It was an open secret, of course, that the 
committee would consider the question of superannuation in 
the course of their deliberations, even though some of the 
members composing it were opposed to the principle of anything 
savouring of old-age pensions unless coming direct from the 
State. The committee, however, were unanimous in recom- 
mending that a contributory scheme of retiring allowance should 
be adopted for the directors on reaching the age of sixty-five. 
They proposed that a scale be gradfed in proportion to length of 
service. Thus, for ten years' and up to fifteen years' aggregate 
j^ervice, £ioo per annum ; from fifteen to twenty years, £125 
per annum ; and twenty years and over, £150 per annum, the 
latter being the maximum. Provision was made for the money 
contributed being paid over, with interest, to relatives, in the 
event of death, or to the director should he cease to be a member 
of the board for any reason whatever. It proposed that the 
salary of each member of the board, " with the exception of the 
present chairman," should be 1^275, 5 per cent, of which, £13, 15s., 
\ypuld;be contributed to the superannuation fund each year. 

The report was considered at a special Wholesale meeting 
on 19th October 1907 — the largest meeting of delegates held 
in the Clarence Street Hall, up till then, fuUy 900 being present. 
An attempt was made to have the number of directors increased 
to fifteen ; but it failed. The meeting adopted the recom- 
mendation of the special committee that, in future, elections 
for directors should be by voting papers, instead of by a show 
of hands at a quarterly meeting, and that canvassing by or on 
behalf of a candidate should be prohibited. Other points in 
the report were discussed, but the delegates decided that there 
should be no divergence from the beaten track ; no super- 
annuation; no increased salaries, no compulsory retirement 
lor the directors. To fill the measure to the brim, they not 
only refused to add to, but actually took away from the 


emoluments of the unhappy members of the board, by 
decreeing that none of them should hold any office of profit in 
any other Co-operative concern outside their own distributive 
societies. The great central point for discussion was, of course, 
the proposed contributory scheme of retiring allowance for the 
directors who had reached the age of sixty-five. Most 
disputants entirely overlooked the fact that the scheme proposed 
would in time become self-supporting, and could not in any 
sense be regarded as a burden in perpetuity. The delegates 
were shackled by instructions from their societies, and all the 
arguments in the world could not have altered the cut-and-dried 
decision that there should be no superannuation. 

There was one incident of 1908 which marked a remarkable 
achievement — or which celebrated an achievement of 1907. 
In the Argyle Arcade Cafe on loth January there was a large 
and jovial company assembled to commemorate the fact that 
the drapery department during the preceding twelve months 
had had a turnover exceeding £1,000,000. Mr David Gardiner 
was presented with an illuminated address, and tributes to 
his excellent managership were paid by Mr Glasse (who presided), 
Mr Little, Mr Young, Mr Pearson, Mr Allan, his own directors ; 
Mr D. M'Innes, of the English Wholesale Society's board ; 
Mr Gibson and Mr Boothroyd, of the C.W.S. drapery department ; 
Mr Macintosh ; and Mr M'Gilchrist (one of Mr Gardiner's 
assistants). One of the speakers was Mr Larke, of Glasgow, 
the gentleman who was first to supply goods to the drapery 
department. The address, which was presented by Mr George 
Davidson, the first male assistant engaged by Mr Gardiner when 
the drapery department was formed, was signed on behalf of the 
subscribing directors and employees by Peter Glasse (director). 
Daniel Thomson (director), Thomas Little (director), James Young 
(director), William Allan, J. M'Gilchrist, and George Davidson. 
In congratulating Mr Gardiner on the success of the department 
under his management, the address bore that : — " The enormous 
expansion of the business during that period is brought out in 
a striking manner by a comparison of the sales for 1876 (the 
first year in which a separate account was kept of drapery 
sales) with the current year. The former amounted to 
£49,952, OS. lod., while the latter will exceed £1,000,000. We 
feel sure that this enormous success is largely due, not only to 


your great administrative skill and technical ability, but also' 
to your indefatigable zeal and the perseverance and courage 
you have always shown in overcoming difficulties." The 
subscribers presented to Mrs Gardiner a beautiful necklet and 
pendant, this presentation being made by Mr Carlaw, another 
old employee of the department. Mr Gardiner, in his reply, 
disclaimed personal credit, and attributed the success of his 
efforts to the help and encouragement he had received from 
the officials of the Society, his assistants in the department, the 
directors, and the managers and buyers employed by the retail 
societies. It was a memorable gathering ; but while it had 
taken thirty-five years to reach the first miUion in the 
department, in ten years more the sales had reached three 

One of the most important decisions arrived at by the 
S.C.W.S. in 1908 was that which gave the directors power " to 
purchase, lease, or acquire fields of coal, hme, fireclay, and 
other minerals," and to sink necessary pits, the total cost not 
to exceed £100,000. It was not the first time the question had 
been raised, but it had got down to what appeared to be 
practical politics. The chief difference of opinion among the 
delegates was that some thought it practical poHtics for the 
Wholesale and others thought it practical pohtics for the 
Government. The chairman at the meeting — ^held in March in 
Glasgow — explained the position fully. The Society's sales in 
coal for the preceding year were 264,747 tons, drawn from 
131 pits. " Taking two typical pits in Ayrshire," he said, " we 
have got as high as 178 tons per day from one pit and an 
average of 58J tons per day. We could have taken 286 tons 
per day from that pit if we could have got it. A pit yielding 
200 tons per day would only be a drop in the bucket." The 
power sought was granted ; but the president warned the 
delegates that the directors had no particular pit in mind, and 
that they might not even buy during the next half-year, but 
they wanted to be armed with the necessary powers if the 
opportunity presented itself. Those who wished to see the 
S.C.W.S. owning and controlling a coal mine have not yet 
reached the realisation of their hopes. 

There are some melancholy changes to be recorded before 
this chapter closes. Death had spared the board from 1899, 


when Mr J. Adams died, till 1907, when the first break occurred 
in what was termed the full-time directorate. The first to 
pass away was the veteran secretary, Mr Andrew Miller. Mr 
Miller had honoured the office with which the Wholesale Society 
had honoured him for thirty-three years. He had been a short 
time on the board when his predecessor, Mr Allan Gray, was 
appointed cashier, and during all those years Mr Miller had 
worked zealously for the movement, and he had earned the 
respect of all his fellow co-operators. He had been one of the 
enthusiasts among the directors for Co-operative production, 
and at one quarterly meeting he had some caustic remarks to 
make about those who talked about going into production and 
yet voted against increasing the value of the S.C.W.S. shares. 
For twenty years he served on the board of the Co-operative 
Insurance Society. He was a persona grata with Co-operators 
on both sides of the Border, and among intimate friends he 
was known for his extremely genial nature. A Conservative 
in politics, he was, nevertheless, always on the side of progressive 
movements in the Co-operative sphere ; and, while he made 
no pretensions to oratory, he could be relied upon to contribute 
very usefully to organisation when work was in progress. In 
TiUicoultry he had a wide circle of friends, and for a number of 
years he was a member of the Town Council and bore the dignity 
of a bailie of the town. A fine type of vigorous manhood he 
was in his earlier days. A serious accident when on Wholesale 
business disfigured his handsome features slightly some years 
before his death ; but, till the last day he was at his post in 
Morrison Street, his commanding figure attracted attention. For 
some months he had been confined to his room with a serious 
illness, and on loth March 1907 he passed quietly away. His 
funeral was a pubUc event in Tillicoultry, and we weU recollect 
the solemn cortege which, led by the poUce and civic dignitaries, 
and joined in by representative. Co-operators from EngUsh and 
Scottish Co-operative societies and federations — ^including the 
general secretary of the Co-operative Union — accompanied his 
dust to- its last resting-place. 

Mr Miller's seat on the board was filled by the election of 
Mr WilUam R. Allan, secretary of the Dundee Coal Society and 
secretary of the Forfar, Perth, and Aberdeen Conference 
Association, who had already done useful work as a propa- 


gandist in the North of Scotland. The office of secretary, 
which the delegates had previously decided must be held by 
a member of the board, was fiUed by Mr John Pearson. 

Before four months had passed another member of the 
board was laid to rest at Leith. This was Mr T. C. M'Nab, 
who had been a member of the directorate from 1889 — seventeen 
years. Mr M'Nab was a delegate to the Preston Congress, and 
we recollect the murmurs of surprise and regret that went 
round the hall when, on the second day of the Congress, the 
president — Mr WiUiam Lander — announced that Mr M'Nab 
had been seized with a sudden illness on the previous evening 
at Blackpool where he was residing. A few days later he was 
conveyed home to Leith, where he lingered for a few weeks 
and passed away on loth July. A large concourse of mourners 
stood around the grave when his remains were lowered to their 
last resting - place, the company including representative 
Co-operators besides the provost and baiUes of Leith, who wore 
their magisterial robes and insignia. Mr M'Nab had been a 
member of Leith Parish Council and School Board, and had 
also been a member of the Town Council and a baiUe. As we 
have already pointed out, he accompanied the manager of the 
S.C.W.S. mills — also a Leith bailie — to Canada, and had 
recommended the purchase of wheat growing land there. He 
had done much useful work for the movement ; had figured 
largely as an orator and as a reader of papers at conferences ; 
and his usefulness in the board-room and committee-room was 
acknowledged by all his colleagues. 

Mr M'Nab's successor on the directorate was Councillor 
James Young, of Musselburgh, a man of considerable zeal and 
activity, who had had a varied experience, and who had been 
closely identified with Co-operative work in the East of Scotland 

Another change took place early in 1908. Mr Daniel 
Thomson, who had been laid aside with sickness for severstl 
months, intimated his resignation in a letter dated 22nd 
January 1908. On 14th February he passed away at his home 
in Dunfermline, full of years' and honour, to the infinite regret 
of all adniiring an honest, conscientious man who, throughout 
a long tale of years, laboured assiduously in various causes having 
for their object the betterment of his fellows. 

Mr Thomson was one of the patriarchs of the movement. 


Possessed of a temperament placid and serene, though he was in 
his seventy-sixth year, his mind was perennially young and 
receptive of new impressions. He had an intimate knowledge 
of modem art and its technique. It was not till afterwards we 
learned that, as a water-colourist himself, he could speak as one 
having authority. No one could wish for a more delightful 
companion than Mr Daniel Thomson. Widely read, and of a 
well-cultivated mind, his quiet, shrewd comments on men and 
things were peculiarly characteristic. A student always, he was 
more a writer than a speaker where numbers were concerned, 
his being of that philosophic turn of mind incUned to think that 
much that is said at times by word of mouth might quite well 
without expression be allowed to go as understood. Himself an 
author, no man was more fully aUve to the important value of 
books, and it was only in the fitness of things that he acted as 
librarian of the small but well-chosen collection at the disposal 
of the board of directors in Morrison Street. He was laid to rest 
in the " Auld Grey Toon " ; his remains being borne, on their 
way to their last abode, past the historic old Abbey, with every 
nook of which he was familiar. \ 

Another Dunfermline man was chosen to fill his place, the 
choice faUing upon Mr James Wilson, who had been a propa- 
gandist for the S.C.W.S. and the Co-operative Union. 

Mr Maxwell had gone through the travail of a Parliamentary 
election in 1900 — a khaki election, when anybody with rational 
ideas, or with a social poUcy of domestic reform to propose, had 
not much chance of being elected. Mr Maxwell, who was held 
high in the esteem of Lord Rosebery, and had been invited by 
Lord Rosebery to Dalmeny in 1892 to meet Mr Gladstone, with 
whom he spent the better part of a whole day, was pressed to 
stand for Clackmannan, the most Co-operative county in 
Scotland ; but he ultimately decided to fight in the Tradeston 
Division of Glasgow, in which the S.C.W.S. headquarters were 
established. It would have been singularly appropriate if the 
constituency had been represented by the head of the great 
society whose premises alone adorned Tradeston. Mr Maxwell 
entered the hsts as a Liberal candidate eight days before the poll, 
and, in company with many other good Liberals and Labour 
men, he went down. The lightning campaign was probably too 
much for him at his years. The development of the business of 


the Wholesale, and the wonderful extension of its operations, 
were beginning to tax his energy, and his resignation of the 
presidency of the Wholesale was contemplated. His many 
friends in the movement pressed him to continue his services, 
and he agreed to do so. The appreciation with which his services 
were measured by the Co-operators of Scotland was demonstrated 
in 1905, when he completed twenty-five years' service on the 
board of the Wholesale Society. The gathering to commemorate 
the event was held in Clarence Street Hall, Glasgow, on 23rd 
December 1905, and was one of the most delightful social 
gatherings held under Wholesale auspices. Mr Duncan 
M'CuUoch, the ex-president of the United Co-operative Baking 
Society, presided over a gathering which filled the hall, those 
present being representative of the whole country. Mr Miller, 
the secretary of the Wholesale, and Mr Maxwell's oldest colleague 
on the board, was the spokesman for the societies that had 
subscribed to the testimonial presented. In speeches appropriate 
to the toasts of the evening, the good wishes of Mr Maxwell's 
fellow-Co-operators were eloquently voiced by old friends like 
John Allan, James Deans, Daniel Thomson, David Rowat of 
Paisley, and John Clark of Perth. Mr Hewitt represented Mr 
Maxwell's colleagues on the board of the Co-operative Newspaper 
Society, and so brought greetings from across the Border. The 
sincerity of the wishes expressed was evidenced by the handsome 
gifts presented as souvenirs of the occasion, these comprising 
a cheque for £500 for Mr Maxwell, and a beautiful piano, music 
stool, and silver rose-bowl for Mrs Maxwell. 

Some moments Ughtly spent may give rise to emotions which 
leave a lasting influence. Such moments arose that afternoon. 
Miss Margot Beatson, who contributed to the musical pro- 
gramme, came on immediately following the presentation. 
She sang "D'ye Mind Lang Syne ? " There had been references 
to the pioneers, to Mr Maxwell's work, to the faith and practice 
of the old Co-operators who had built up the movement. Her 
simple song seemed appropriate. She sang the verse : 
" Where are they noo — ^the hearts so leal and true ? 

Some ha'e crossed life's troubled stream and some are strugglin' 
through ; 

But some ha'e risen high in life's fitful destiny, 

For they rase wi' the lark in the momin'." 

And as she sang that last Une the singer turned on her feet and 

-?''»-*;*"A £ 

r < 

















looked at the honoured guest of the evening. It was the most 
eloquent tribute of the evening ; the audience saw its application 
at once, and the last notes of the line were drowned in the thunder 
of applause. There were some in that audience moved by these 
words and their appropriateness, and the lesson remained with 

Mr Maxwell, in his speech, had indicated that the time had 
come when he and the Wholesale delegates must say good-bye. 
It was taken by way of announcing that he would not again 
accept nomination for the presidency when his time expired a 
few months later. There was no physical reason then why he 
should retire. His health was good — marvellous for his age. 
Before the time came for his renomination, he was again pressed 
to take no step that would lead to a severance of his connection 
with the Wholesale, and once more he was elected unanimously. 
It was his last term, however. In 1908 he decided to relinquish 
his post, and the announcement was received with regret. He 
was debarred by the decision at the special meeting, regarding 
the position of directors, from holding any "office of profit'" 
in any other society ; but any such office as he held had not to 
be vacated till the end of his term. So in 1908, when his term 
of office on the directorate of the Co-operative Newspaper Society 
expired, he was still president of the S.C.W.S., and had to retire 
from the Newspaper board — an event that was marked by the 
presentation of an illuminated address and an album containing 
portraits of his feUow-directors, the editor, and the manager. 
For the presidency of the S.C.W.S. there were nominated Mr 
D. H. Gerrard, the president of the United Co-operative Baking 
Society ; and Messrs Peter Glasse, Thomas Little, Henry 
Murphy, and Robert Stewart, all of whom were members of the 
S.C.W.S. board. Mr Gerrard intimated a desire to withdraw 
after the nominations had been announced ; and, eventually, 
Mr Stewart was successful in the ballot. Mr Maxwell was 
entertained at dinner in the Clarence Street Hall a few days 
before the next quarterly meeting, and was presented with gifts 
indicative of the esteem and good wishes of the directors and 
the heads of departments. Shortly afterwards he was presented 
with a handsome secretaire and bookcase by the employees at 
Shieldhall — that monument of his " long view " of the work of 
the Wholesale — ^in recognition of his special interest in the 


employees as a whole, to which reference is made in a later section 
of this volume. 

He presided over a quarterly meeting for the last time in 
September 1908. The delegates, not unmindful of his great 
services, voted him a parting gift pi two years' salary — ^£700. 
It was not the most memorable part of the proceedings. Mr John 
MaUinson, of St Cuthbert's Association, in a speech fuU of grace, 
moved that the "Wholesale Society should place on record 'an 
expression of its regret at Mr Maxwell's retirement, and should 
also record in the minutes its appreciation of, and thanks for, 
his long years of service to the Society and to the movement as 
a whole. The resolution was seconded and put to the meeting, 
when there occurred one of those striking demonstrations which 
have only occurred on very rare occasions at a Wholesale meeting. 
The resolution was scarcely put to the meeting when the delegates 
broke into a storm of applause, which grew in volume till some- 
body rose, and in a second the delegates had become cin up- 
stianding cheering mass ; a thin voice broke into song, and the 
thousand voices joined in singing " He's a jolly good fellow " ; 
the singing changed once again into cheers ; and, as the writer 
recorded in his report of the proceedings at the time, through 
it all there remained only one seated figure — that of the white- 
haired, honoured, and overcome veteran, who occupied the chair, 
with his head buried in his hands on the table before him. So 
WiUiam Maxwell passed out of office in the S.C.W.S., although 
he stiU retains his seat on the executive of the International 
Co-operative AUiance as the representative of the Wholesale 
Society. This is due to the resolutions of quarterly meetings. 
Mr Maxwell, since the Cremona Congress of 1907, has been 
president of the International AUiance, and that distinguished 
office has made him the best-known Co-operator in the world. 



It is an interesting coincidence that the last decade of the 
&st fifty years coincides exactly with the term of office of 
the present occupant of the chair. Mr Maxwell's valedictory 
meetiog was in September 1908 ; the Society's jubilee would 
have been celebrated in September 1918 ; and so the new 
president is justified in taking a good deal of personal pride 
from the title which this chapter bears. Mr Robert Stewart 
proved a worthy successor to the venerated president whose 
mantle was conferred upon him. He had led a busy life ; but 
it is the busy people who get the work to do, and it was so 
especially in the case of Mr Stewart. He was not bom to 
commercial life ; he adapted himself to it. He was a tradesman 
— a joiner — employed at his trade in the S.C.W.S. building 
department. He was a keen trade unionist, an ardent temperance 
advocate, a zealous church worker, an enthusiastic Liberal, and 
he had even acquired — in his earlier days — some little reputation 
as a footballer. To the unthinking there is perhaps little 
connection between all these things and Co-operation ; but his. 
zealous participation in all these activities — not excluding the 
football — ^had accustomed him to working with his fellows for 


a common laudable purpose, and that is Co-operation in essence. 
Born in Glasgow, located on the south side of the city, Mr 
Stewart had thrown in his lot with the Kinning Park Co-operative 
Society. An enthusiast in any movement which he thought it 
right to join, he soon became one of the representative members 
of that society. He was one of its delegates at conferences 
and at meetings of Co-operative federations. He passed 
through its educational committee on the way to a seat on the 
board. He represented it on the directorate of the United 
Co-operative Baking Society, and was its nominee for the 
presidency of the Scottish Co-operator Newspaper Society, which 
had been begotten by his own society. He retained this last- 
mentioned post till the rule, which also disqualified Mr Maxwell 
from sitting on the Co-operative News board, was passed by 
the S.C.W.S. at the meeting referred to in the last chapter. 
He had been sent to the S.C.W.S. board to succeed Mr Adams, 
who died in 1899 and who was also a Kinning Park man. Mr 
Stewart's activities had won him laurels outside the movement 
also. He had proved himself an educationist of some virtue 
in the Govan School Board. For a number of years he had 
been a member of the Kinning Park Town Council and a bailie 
of the burgh — and he treasures several pairs of white gloves 
formally presented to him when there were no cases to bring 
before the local police court. Mr Stewart would have been 
provost of Kinning Park, but a passionate affection for 
Co-operative principles seized the burgh and it merged itself 
in Glasgow in 1906, and there was no longer any need for a 
provost. Mr Stewart, however, was elected to the Glasgow 
Town Council as one of three representatives Kinning Park 
was entitled to send, and he did good work there till 1908 when 
his term expired, and he did not seek re-election. 

His best friends were not certain whether to congratulate 
or sympathise with hiin when his election was declared. They 
were satisfied that they had made no mistaken selection ; but 
it was no sinecure to be president of a board of directors serving 
the interests of nearly half a million members of Co-operative 
societies and doing a trade of £7,500,000 a year. It was no 
light undertaking to succeed a president who enjoyed a world- 
wide reputation and who had the whole of the details of that 
great business at his finger-ends because he had seen the 


inception of so many new departments and of all its productive 
factories. Now that ten years and more have passed, and the , 
Society has passed through a period which has witnessed the 
destruction of empires, the overthrow of kingdoms, and a 
revolution of political and economic thought in every country, 
we know of no one who regrets the choice of a president which 
the Wholesale made on that occasion. The attainment of the 
new dignity was a remarkably interesting evolution. The 
journeyman carpenter, in receipt of trade union rates of pay 
from this concern, becomes a spokesman for his society at the 
meetings of the shareholders, he wins his way to the boardroom, 
and eventually becomes the chairman of the directors and 
president of the whole great institution with its colossal trade 
and its army of employees. It is a progress that does not come 
to many men, and those unworthy of such promotion do not 
retain their rank long. According to rule the presidency is 
an office held for two years, and a re-election is necessary ; 
according to practice it is an office and a dignity held ad vitam 
aut culpam with a biennial re-election as a formality. Mr 
Stewart's rank remains with him, and he adorns his rank. 

His election to the chair still left a vacancy in the board 
to be filled, and, not unnaturally, the choice of the movement 
fell upon the nominee of St Cuthbert's Association, which had 
been Mr Maxwell's nominating society all the years he was on 
the board. The new director was Mr Robert Nesbit, who had 
been a member of St Cuthbert's for about thirty-five years, for 
eighteen of which he had acted as treasurer. He, too, was an 
employee of the S.C.W.S., so that Mr Stewart's experience was 
repeated in Mr Nesbit's election, and it was once again demon- 
strated that the Co-operative movement resembled the army 
of Napoleon inasmuch as the simple soldier carried the marshal's 
baton in his knapsack. Mr Nesbit was the last director to be 
elected by the votes of the delegates at a quarterly meeting, 
all voting for directors now being done by a ballot of the 

Mr Stewart's first year of office was a peculiarly trying one. 
One of those oft-recurring cycles of trade depression had come, 
and there was very considerable unemployment. Shopkeepers 
ever5rwhere were complaining of bad trade, and the drapery 
trade was one of the first to suffer. The Co-operative stores, 


naturally, reflect the purchasing powers of the working-classes 
and they felt the depression like other estabUshments, but not 
to the same extent, for, while the distributive societies did not 
show their usual rates of increase, there was nevertheless an 
increase in the trade of about 7-6 per cent, up tiU the end of 
March. The Wholesale Society, at the March meeting, had 
voted £1,200 for the rehef of the prevailing distress. When 
Mr Stewart presided for the first time at the quarterly meeting 
— I2th December — ^he had to announce that the trade of the 
Wholesale showed a decrease for the quarter. It was the first 
time for fourteen years that the chairman had such a statement 
to make, and it was a somewhat embarrassing statement for a 
new president. The depression continued for some time. Acute 
distress was experienced in many parts of the country, and 
serious disturbance also threatened in many places. Public 
soup kitchens had been opened in industrial centres ; reUef 
works had been established under local authorities and distress 
committees ; considerable unrest was manifesting itself, and 
the nation was on the verge of one of the most serious internal 
crises that had arisen for years. When the Wholesale Society's 
accounts were closed for the second half-year in 1908 it was 
shown that the decrease which was only 17 per cent, at the 
September quarter-end had become 5-7 by the end of December, 
and the returns for the first half of 1909 were 5-9 per cent, 
lower than the returns for the first half of 1908. By the end 
of 1909, however, the trade began to recover again, and an 
increase was once more recorded. 

Notwithstanding the depression in trade, the S.C.W.S. went 
forging ahead. The first retail branch had been established, 
as we have already recorded ; but the directors were eager to 
open similar branches in Canada, especially as the Society had 
already established itself there for buying purposes. The 
project was in contemplation at the end of 1908, but it had to 
be dropped then in view of the advice of the Society's law agent, 
which was to the effect that such a step could not legally be 
taken. The laundry at Potterhill was opened in January 1909, 
notwithstanding a vigorous fight by Barrhead Society against 
the transfer of the laundry from Barrhead. Meanwhile the 
drapery department was advancing ; and on 15th March, 
when the annual spring millinery and mantle show took place. 


it was held in a new portion of the warehouse opened that day. 
This was the portion in Paterson Street immediately adjoining 
the old Wallace Street front block, and it did not extend quite 
to Morrison Street. The extension consisted of five floors and 
a basement, and an idea of the dimensions of the new wing 
may be grasped from the fact that a portion of one of the floors 
in the extension had fixture accommodation for 200,000 dozen 
collars. The warehouse was then beheved to be one of the 
largest and best equipped in the country — considering that it 
was confined to the drapery trade alone, and did not include 
either boots or furniture as most wholesale establishments did 
— ^but there have been further extensions and additions since 

In order to keep the Society's ham-curing department 
supplied with the necessary " material," piggeries were 
estabhshed at Enniskillen and Calderwood, and these were in 
going order by the middle of 1909. The opening of the Ry elands 
milk centre almost synchronised with these developments. 
This was a step that seemed a natural development of the 
Calderwood enterprise, and cows had already been stocked on 
the estate. They did not supply all that was wanted, for, 
although many of the societies had placed their contracts for 
the season before Ry elands centre was in operation, the first 
quarter's trade at Ryelands represented an average collection 
of 6,000 gallons of milk per week. The commodious new branch 
warehouse at Seagate, Dundee, which took the place of the 
rented premises in Trades Lane which had been destroyed by 
fire in 1906, was completed and opened in July 1909. It was 
an event that stirred the enthusiasm of John Barrowman, and 
his reminiscent speech on that occasion, when he recounted 
some of his missionary efforts in the North, kept the audience 
in merriment for some time. 

The Wholesale Society, however, was again put to trouble 
by a revival of the boycott by the Glasgow Fleshers' Association 
and the meat and cattle salesmen associated with them. The 
by-law passed by the City Corporation requiring that all bona 
fide bids should be accepted at public sales had applied not only 
to the city cattle market but to the foreign animals wharf at 
Yorkhill. The latter place had been given up, and a new wharf 
was leased at Merklands on the same side of the river. The 


Merklands Wharf was opened for business without the by-law 
being re-enacted, and several efforts were made by the friends 
of the anti-Co-operators in the Town Council to have the by-law 
abohshed in so far as it appUed to the city cattle market. 
Various factors brought the anti-Co-operators success in 1909. 
One of these was undoubtedly political. While the boycott 
raged and the virulence of the opponents of the movement 
showed itself unblushingly, the Co-operators were vigorous in 
their own defence. The Glasgow and West of Scotland Defence 
Association developed into a Scottish National Defence 
Association. Where any pubhc body refused to recognise the 
Co-operators as having civic rights, either individually or 
collectively, it invariably followed that a Co-operative candidate, 
or more, took the field at the next election whether the public 
body was a parish council, a school board, or a town council. 
In this connection it ought to be said that the directors of the 
Wholesale Society did not spare themselves. There was scarcely 
a member of the board at this time who had not been a member 
of one or more of these bodies. In addition to that, by a 
resolution of the shareholders, the directors were instructed to 
convey to the managers of the departments the intimation that 
employees who were selected as candidates and were elected to 
public bodies were to be allowed time for the performance of 
their pubhc duties. That privilege has been made use of even 
in the case of the Glasgow Town Council, which makes con- 
siderable demands upon the time of its members. So did the 
Co-operators respond to the call for Co-operative defence when 
attack was unmistakable. In 1905, however, the Paisley 
Congress confirmed a resolution of the Perth Congress of 1897 
in favour of direct Co-operative representation in Parliament. 
It had also raised the question of afiihation between the 
Co-operative movement and the Labour Party, and a heated 
discussion had taken place with regard to the whole question 
of poUtics because the movement comprised people of all 
pohtical creeds. Some shrewd observers had learned even then 
that a pohtical struggle was bound to come sooner or later 
between the exploiters and the exploited, and they were 
convinced that the workers as a whole would have to fight 
vigorously and unitedly if their conditions of hfe were to be 
improved. Some, it is true, while convinced of that, believed 


that the poUtical parties to which they belonged would be the 
best bulwark of the workers. The struggle was virtually 
between the Labourists and the Liberals, although it must be 
confessed that some — though probably not many — were opposed 
to the movement being allied to any party even that to which 
they usually gave their support. For one reason or another,, 
then, there were Co-operators opposed to political action. In 
some societies they succeeded in dominating the situation to^ 
such an extent that these societies would not even vote funds- 
to the Defence Association, on the ground that the funds were 
being used for municipal elections, and that, they argued, was- 
" the thin end of the wedge." There had been a slight 
recrudescence of boycott and hostility in Perth, Kilmarnock,. 
Leith, and one or two other places ; but it was a comparatively 
mild attack. The anti-political crusade, and the subsidence of 
the really virulent hostiUty of the earlier years, both contributed 
to a waning of the enthusiasm of Co-operators in the municipal 
elections even in Glasgow, although that apathy which was; 
apparent in so many could not be alleged against the Defence 
Committee itself. Thanks to the relaxation of vigilance the day- 
came when the anti-Co-operators in the Glasgow Town Council, 
who had been beaten so often, at last saw the hope of victory ; 
they seized their opportunity, and in April 1909 they succeeded 
in getting the by-laws in the city cattle market rescinded. 
Friends of the movement made attempts, at meetings of the 
council, to have it restored ; the Defence Committee organised 
better than ever before ; Co-operators were added to the 
council, but they were not sufficient, and the salesmen in the- 
public auctions in the city's market are entitled, till to-day, to- 
refuse to accept the bid of the Co-operative buyers who represent 
over a third of the ratepayers of the city. The responsible 
press of the city rebuked the Corporation for inaugurating such 
a state of things ; but it seemed as if their rebukes were not 
so much because the decision was an injustice to the Co-operators 
as because it allowed dictation by the fleshers. The whole 
aspect of the case had changed, however, from the time the 
question was previously a subject of first-rank controversy. 
When the 1909 decision was reached the "Wholesale Society waa 
independent of the pubhc sale rings. The board reported that 
they could get all the supplies they wanted — a condition which 


could not be guaranteed when the trouble first arose— and the 
only question that remained was that of the right of citizenship. 
That right— the right of the Co-operative buyer to the same 
treatment as his rivals in the pubUc sale rings — ^has not yet been 
recognised by the Council of the second city of the first Empire 
■of the world. 

It was not purely a question for Co-operators now, it was 
a question for the whole community. The community did not 
recognise that. In April igog the Co-operative News pubUshed 
a letter received by a Glasgow firm from a Canadian shipper of 
cattle who wrote : "If the Glasgow butchers do not want live 
■cattle, but prefer to go to Liverpool for the dressed beef, all 
they have to do is to continue their present poUcy, and they 
•can congratulate themselves that they have accomphshed their 
object. If, on the other hand, they consider that it would be 
a good and profitable thing to have cattle sent them from this 
country, they had better get a move on and look the situation 
in the face, and drop for once and for all time this ridiculous 
system of hampering the free sale of cattle." It bears out what 
has gone before in these pages. 

In the meantime, Scotland remained under the cloud of 
unemployment. Distress prevailed ever5rwhere. The reason 
given for the situation in the public press was " over production." 
The Glasgow Herald pubhshed an article (September) in which 
it was stated that " by means of labour exchanges the country 
may secure that organisation of the labour market which is a 
need of the times, while a measure of regulation in the case of 
the seasonal trade would avert much of the distress that is 
prevalent in them." The Herald, even with its usual broad view 
■of things, did not seem to recognise that such a regulation as it 
desired was already in operation — even if to a hmited extent 
capable of development — ^in the Co-operative movement, which 
■estimated the requirements of the consumers or users of certain 
articles and produced only for a known market. 

An interesting controversy arose in 1910 regarding the 
relationship between retail societies and the Wholesale Society. 
In 1906 Mr J. C. Gray, at the annual Co-operative Congress at 
Birmingham, had delivered a presidential address — one of the 
last of such addresses to formulate any big departure — ^in which 
he outlined a scheme for a great National Co-operative Society 


which would carry on the operations then, and now, undertaken 
by the numerous societies throughout the country. The S.C.W.S. 
had accepted the principle of conducting retail branches, as we 
have already seen, with the intention of enabUng the purchasers 
at these branches to accumulate capital from their dividends, 
with a view to their taking over the branches to be conducted 
eventually as separate societies. Mr Peter Glasse, however, 
conceived the idea that the Wholescde Society should retain 
such branches and that this combination of retail and wholesale 
business might make the nucleus of a National Society. Mean- 
while, Mr James Deans and the Scottish Sectional Board of the 
Co-operative Union were out on a campaign for the amalgamation 
of retail societies in districts where there were two or more 
operating and where overlapping was being complained of. 
These enthusiasts found full scope for their mission at their 
own doors, and the amalgamation of the whole of the Glasgow 
societies was proposed and a carefuUy considered scheme was 
being discussed. The whole proposition was given another 
aspect in February of 1910 when, at a conference held in 
connection with a memorable exhibition of S.C.W.S. productions, 
held in St Andrew's Halls, Mr Archibald Henderson, then 
secretary of the St George Society, read a paper, in the course 
of which he argued — much like Mr Glasse — that the line of 
progress was not so much in the amalgamation but in the union 
of these societies with the Wholesale. The subject was discussed 
frequently, if informally, but neither that idea nor Mr Deans' 
idea for a big amalgamated society in Glasgow matured. 

It would be neglecting a matter of some special importance 
if we did not allude to a series of meetings that were held at 
this time, at which a number of the city of Glasgow societies 
were represented, and at which prices charged by the Wholesale 
Society were compared and, in some cases, criticised. The 
retail societies had been watching the developments of the 
multiple firms, which, in some cases, boasted of their ability to 
wipe out the Co-operative movement. Some of these firms 
operated in limited areas, and some, of course, had their shops 
all over the kingdom — one trust alone having over six hundred 
shops. Needless to say, if they could wipe out the Co-operative 
organisation they would have exterminated all the small trading 
concerns in the process. Some small traders recognised this 


and went in dread of the multiple firms, although those who. 
were organised in the Traders' Defence Association regarded the 
multiple firms as legitimate trading concerns. One of these 
firms set aside a considerable portion of its profits each year to- 
subsidise its operations in districts where Co-operative societies 
were particularly strong, the idea being, apparently, to sell 
goods below the economic price. The effect of that on small 
traders would have been more serious than its effect on the 
Co-operative society, which had its reserves behind it and could 
rely upon the resources of the whole movement in a fight of that 
kind. It was clear that the societies would have to reckon on 
a conflict of this kind sooner or later, and the aggressiveness of 
these multiple firms was in the minds of the committees of the 
societies in Glasgow where the competition was keen and where 
prices were at a fairly low level compared with other places. 
There were several meetings of Glasgow committees held, on 
the initiative of the manager and directors of the Cowlairs 
Society, and at one of these the writer was present. The 
representatives present believed that the Wholesale Society could 
sell at lower prices than the societies were being charged, and 
to that end they organised pressure on the Wholesale board in 
order to secure a reduction of prices, in view of the effects of 
the industrial depression through which the country had passed 
and in view of this vigorous competition. To some extent the 
agitation might be described as creating a feeling of unrest. 
The directors of the S.C.W.S., with a statesmanship that might 
have been followed by the Government when there were 
evidences of labour unrest, took the wise course of holding a 
conference of representatives of all the societies catered for by 
the Glasgow warehouses of the Wholesale to discuss the whole 
subject freely. There were nearly one hundred societies 
represented. Mr Isaac M'Donald presided and invited the 
fullest frankness from the delegates because " they were all met 
together as candid friends." He spoke of there being " unrest, 
dissatisfaction, and even disaffection," and he said the Wholesale 
directors and managers wanted to discover the cause of it. 
There was little of substance to found a discussion on, and 
representatives of one or two of the complaining societies 
suggested that the meeting might be adjourned for two or three 
weeks to enable them to collect data. The mass of the delegates 


seemed to be satisfied with the statements put forward by the 
directors and the proceedings terminated without adjournment. 
Some of the Glasgow societies pursued the matter further, 
however, and sent a deputation to the board to discuss the 
whole question in detail. The directors invited the fullest 
frankness from societies everywhere, and conferences were 
held in other centres. The matter was further ventilated at 
the September meeting in 1911, but the net result was a perfect 
understanding and a pledge from the president of the Cowlairs 
Society — which had led the agitation — of wholehearted loyalty 
and support for the Wholesale. The matter is referred to here 
at this length because it is, so far as we can trace or recollect, 
the only occasion on which there was anything like organised 
complaint on the score of prices. The agitation was organised 
by only a few societies, and the liiass of testimony from managers 
and committees of other societies was wholly in favour of the 
S.C.W.S. We talked to a number of managers and buyers 
representing retail societies at that time, and their answer to 
our inquiries, generalised, was : " We cannot say we can buy 
to better advantage elsewhere ; the Wholesale is giving us better 
prices and terms than any other firm can give, but we think it 
is possible that the Wholesale might do even better." That, 
after all, was only a vote of confidence expressed differently 
than in the usual formula. What actually inspired the agitation 
to begin with was that there were a few private merchants in 
competition with the Wholesale Society who were offering goods 
at prices below S.C.W.S. prices ; but it was ascertained that 
they were offering these goods to Co-operative societies at prices 
below those charged to the private traders who were in 
competition with the Co-operative societies. The most broad- 
minded man imaginable could not conceive of the merchant 
being actuated by any desire to assist the Co-operative societies 
to the detriment of the private trader. The object, obviously, 
was to undermine the loyalty of the societies to the Wholesale 
and to convey the impression that the S.C.W.S. was over- 
charging. Even with that object in view the pohcy of the 
merchants concerned was stupid, because the Wholesale Society 
was not like a concern over which the purchasing societies had 
no control and from which they had no interest in purchasing. 
These societies had capital sunk in the S.C.W.S. If factories 


or warehouses were not being conducted successfully the 
shareholders would not withdraw their trade and go elsewhere ; 
they would take prompt steps to impress the directors with the 
need for improving their methods, and they would take care 
that improvement was effected. The Wholesale, as it was, 
came out of the agitation successfully, and there has never 
been any incident of the kind since, as there never had been 

Mr Stewart's troubles were added to for a time by his having 
to pacify delegates who waxed disagreeably eloquent on the 
subject of the continued heavy losses on the Calderwood Estate. 
It was a standing subject for inquiry or discussion at these 
meetings, and year after year the balance-sheet showed a loss 
with unfailing regularity. By 1910 they had amounted to 
between £20,000 and ;f 30,000 on an estate which had cost £37,000. 
This was more than the delegates could regard with equanimity, 
although at the time the estate was purchased they were warned 
that a considerable time might elapse before the estate could be 
made remunerative. The position was regarded as so serious 
that on two or three occasions delegates had suggested that the 
directors should sell the estate and get rid of it — and the losses. 
In 1910, however, the directors employed an expert to go into 
the whole of the affairs of Calderwood and ascertain, if possible, 
where the root of the trouble lay and wha;t coxM. be done not 
only to prevent the losses but to make the estate a profitable 
department of the Society's business. The report was not at 
all cheerful. The expert thought the price paid for the estate 
was too high, that the charges against it for interest and 
depreciation were such as would be hkely to operate against 
good results, that some parts of the estate had been badly 
drained, and that some of the fields required special and prompt 
attention. The cattle on the estate were a good herd, but 
apparently the horticultural and agricultural sections both 
contributed to the losses. 

The report was very carefully considered by the board. The 
expert's recommendations, so far as practicable, were put into 
operation ; and although the report seemed depressing it 
undoubtedly paved the way for progress afterwards made and 
for profits reaUsed, which are alluded to later. The appointment 
of Mr G. C. Young as manager of the estate was one of the most 


practical steps taken by the board to change the complexion of 
the Calderwood balance-sheet. 

There were troubles in some of the retail societies that 
reacted to some extent upon the Wholesale Society. In some 
cases societies had suffered serious financial losses and there 
had been in earlier years a few failures among the Co-operative 
societies. To the credit of the working-people who managed 
these societies such occurrences have been exceedingly rare. 
Nobody need be surprised that such things happened, for 
failures happened in the commercial world, with disastrous 
frequency, to firms reputed to be wealthy and to businesses 
believed to be conducted on sound lines. Writing in 1911 * 
we mentioned that at this time the official returns showed that 
in the trading world there had been in one year no fewer than 
7,651 bankruptcies in the kingdom (1,007 of which were in the 
grocery and provision trade), involving losses to creditors 
amounting to seven and three-quarter millions sterling. This 
seems an appaUing commercial death-rate ; and when it is 
mentioned that since 1905 there have been only five failures of 
Co-operative societies connected with the S.C.W.S. readers will 
admit that the societies seem to be planted in healthy soil. It 
has to be observed that a Co-operative society planted in a 
district where there is one industry must be immediately 
jeopardised by the closing down of that industry and the transfer 
of the population. That is one factor which makes the liquida- 
tion of a village Co-operative society a possibility always to be 
borne in mind. That factor, however, did not operate in any 
of the cases alluded to. In almost every case the collapse was 
due to the violation of rules. Credit had been given to members 
while the rules prescribed that there should be no credit. The 
rules and constitution of a Co-operative society reserve to the 
members the control of the society's affairs ; the powers of the 
directors are hmited to those conferred upon them by the 
members themselves. The doings of the officials and managers 
are subject to weekly review by the directors ; the doings of 
the directors are subject to quarterly review (and in some 
societies to monthly or bi-quarterly review) by the members ; 
and where the members take the control that they are entitled 
to take and expected to take they can make financial failure 
* Alloa Society's Jubilee History. 


next to impossible. If they neglect their prerogative and a 
society comes down, however blameworthy an official or a 
committee may be, the members are almost invariably equally 
blameworthy. In almost every case of Co-operative failures the 
shareholders have been the chief sufferers. In only a few cases 
have there been trade creditors. To the credit of the Co-operative 
societies of the country, when a failure has taken place they 
have been ready to subscribe to mitigate the loss of the share- 
holders of the unfortunate society, even when the shareholders 
were themselves to blame. The failure of a Co-operative society 
is so rare that when such a misfortune does take place the 
newspapers make the most of it, because it is so unusual — the 
papers being governed by the same principle in this as that 
which leads them to give a headed paragraph or a special report 
to the prosecution of a clergyman for an offence which, if 
committed by an ordinary mortal, would be ignored or dismissed 
in a fill-up paragraph. 

The Wholesale Society, taking the view that the failure of 
a Co-operative society, however easily it might be explained and 
accounted for, and however much it might be the fault of the 
sufferers, injured Co-operative prestige recognised that, where 
possible, such a calamity should be averted by timely aid. To 
enable the directors to give such aid the S.C.W.S. shareholders 
voted £i,ooo to the formation of a special fund to be used for 
that purpose. The amount voted, having in mind the seven 
and three-quarter miUions lost by the creditors of ordinary 
trading concerns in one year, was eloquent evidence of the 
faith of the shareholders in the integrity of the members of the 
societies throughout Scotland. That was in 1910 ; there has 
been no addition to the fund since, and at the JubUee of the 
Wholesale that fund amounted to £531, 2s. yd., so that the calls 
upon the fund have not been heavy during those eight years. 

Another of Mr Stewart's unpleasant worries that came on 
top of those already mentioned was that arising from a crop of 
what were called " Independent " societies. In Mr Maxwell's 
time a split had occurred in Kilwinning, and some members 
had left the local society to form a new society. From a purely 
commercial point of view one might say it should not matter 
to the S.C.W.S. where its trade came from or what the societies 
were who joined it, so long as they were Co-operative societies 








registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, as 
the Wholesale's rules required. The members of the Wholesale 
Society took a higher view of their function than that. They 
recognised the S.C.W.S. not simply as a trading concern but 
as a federation established to help to spread Co-operation. 
Consequently, when the Segton Co-operative Society — as the 
hive-off from Kilwinning was called— sought to be admitted as 
a member of the Wholesale Society the other members refused 
because Co-operation would never be advanced by little societies 
sphtting themselves up into competing fractions. They took 
the view that there were advisory bodies in the movement to 
whom differences could be referred ; and it was held that if 
admission to the membership of the Wholesale were made easy 
for every little coterie which pleased to create a secession serious 
harm would be done, not only to the whole organisation but to 
the members induced to secede. In the Kilwinning case the 
trouble was purely personal. 

The cases that arose shortly after Mr Stewart's accession to 
the presidency were a little more serious. In Wishaw, 
Motherwell, and Shettleston religious differences arose between 
members of the societies. In Motherwell the causes were easily 
understood. A Glasgow lecturer, who afterwards fell foul of 
^the law, conducted open-air propaganda in the town and 
created a good deal of sectarian bitterness. The manager of the 
Dalziel Co-operative Society, Mr Wilham Purdie, was Provost 
of Motherwell at the time, and his whole influence was thrown 
in the direction of preserving the good feeling that normally 
existed in the town, and the fair-minded Protestants and 
Catholics alike recognised the efforts he made. There were 
disorders, however, and there was great bitterness engendered. 
Unfortunately, some members of the Co-operative society, on 
both sides, caught the infection, and the result was the 
formation of the Independent Society there, which was chiefly 
composed, at the beginning at least, of Catholics. Good 
Catholic Co-operators in Motherwell and elsewhere deprecated 
the proceeding, and, for the most part, Catholics who were 
members of the Dalziel Society retained their membership. In 
Wishaw and Shettleston the causes for the secession were more 
obscure, but the independent societies in these districts were also 
started by Nationalists or Catholics. Applications for admission 


as members of the S.C.W.S. were made by each of these societies ; 
but all such applications were turned down, not because these 
were Catholic societies but because they represented movements 
calculated to divide the people whose chief need was solidarity. 
Some of the promoters of these societies tried to read religious 
prejudice into the refusals, but CathoHcs who understood 
Co-operative principles and procedure recognised that it was a 
sound Co-operative principle that two societies should not exist 
in a district which could be more economically worked by one. 
Any suggestion that such societies were excluded on denomina- 
tional grounds can be set aside in view of what happened to 
the Segton Society, and in view of the fact that admission was 
similarly refused to the Abbeygreen Society, started at 
Lesmahagow as a result of a strike of the employees of the 
Coalburn Society. The strikers and their sympathisers 
inaugurated the Abbeygreen Society, and, in a general way, 
it would be true to say that trade union and Co-operative 
sympathy was very largely against the Coalburn committee ; 
but, in spite of that, the feeling in the movement was that 
societies should be improved, if they needed improvement, from 
the inside. There have been heartburnings when such appUca- 
tions for admission have been refused, but even those most 
indignant at the time have had to acknowledge that the 
judgment of the S.C.W.S. directors and delegates was right,, 
and most of those who joined such sectional organisations have 
eventually found their way back to the parental roof. It might 
be observed here, parenthetically, that, except on these very 
rare occasions, there has been no raising of denominational 
questions at Wholesale meetings, and the members of societies, 
whatever their creed, have worked loyally together for the 
Co-operative cause without attempting to introduce issues that 
ought not to be raised at Co-operative gatherings. After many 
years of close intimate experience of the Wholesale and retail 
societies in Scotland, we feel justified in sa5dng that there is 
less of the sectarian spirit shown in the Co-operative movement 
than in any other democratic organisation we know. 

One of the most anxious experiences of the Wholesale directors, 
and the shareholders arose on 3rd September 1911, when the 
splendid buildings in Morrison Street, Glasgow, fell a victim to 
the fire fiend. It was a Sunday evening. Twilight was 


beginning to deepen, churchgoers were on their way home, and 
thousands of people were still enjoying the out-of-door pleasures 
of a delightful evening when the comparative quiet of the 
Sabbath was broken by the shrieking syrens which cleared the 
streets for the swift-fi3dng red motor engines of the fire-brigade ; 
and the citizens, even on the outskirts, hastened to seek vantage 
points from which they might locate the fire which now 
illuminated the sky, for it was evident that it was no ordinary 
outbreak to which the brigade had been summoned. Describing 
the spectacle for the Co-operative News at the time, we wrote : 
" The magnificent building involved in the conflagration was 
one of the most admired architectural features of Southern 
Glasgow. Standing almost on the level of the quays of Kingston 
Dock, it formed the stage upon which the Fire-King gave the 
awe-inspiring demonstration of his rage, which was witnessed by 
the thousands who thronged the natural galleries formed by the 
eminences of Govanhill, Kelvingrove, Springburn, Yorkhill, 
Mount Florida, and Queen's Park, and by other heights in and 
around the city, from which the various triumphs, first of the 
flames and then of the firemen, could be clearly observed. It 
seemed as if the whole interior of the huge pile of masonry 
had become a roaring furnace which would consume stone and 
lime and reduce ' the pride of the Co-operators of Scotland ' 
to hot dust. In that dazzling glare the outlines of the buildings 
in the neighbourhood were clearly distinguishable, even at the 
distance of nearly two miles. The familiar clock gusset of the 
Wholesale dining-room block, the domes of the drapery ware- 
house, the masts of the shipping in the river, and the steeples 
and chimneys that intervened were sharply outlined." Viewed 
on the following day the building seemed to be a terrible wreck. 
On the east side of the tower nothing was left standing of the 
two uppermost storeys but the bare walls and gaping windows, 
while the north-eastern turret had disappeared. In place of 
the magnificent dome which rose above the centre of the 
building there was a warped and twisted framework of steel 
girders, while the large figure of Light and Truth hung head 
downwards from the summit. The three lower storeys appeared 
to be intact, not even a window being broken. Inside the 
building, after an inspection, it was found that the eastern 
division of the counting-house was altogether unfit for working 


in, owing to the damage done by water ; the china department 
— one of the most attractive showrooms in Britain^ — was in a 
similar condition, as also was the optical department. The 
ironmongery, tinware, bedding, and brush departments were 
completely gutted out. The grocery buyers' rooms and the 
saleroom were almost unapproachable because of the flood of 
water still coming from above. The damage done amounted to 
about £40,000, all of which was covered by insurance. 

The recovery from the effects of the disaster was remarkable. 
On the Sunday night heads of departments flocked to the scene 
and were joined by the directors living in the city. Consulta- 
tions took place and preliminary arrangements were made for 
Monday morning's business. The offices were temporarily 
transferred to 119 Paisley Road, the dining-room block. 
Arrangements were also made for the temporary establishment 
of the departments displaced. The whole clerical staff, with 
the exception of about forty, was located in the west-end of 
the counting-house, and began before ten o'clock on Monday 
morning. The remaining forty were set at liberty till two 
o'clock, by which hour desks had been erected in the Clarence 
Street Hall, and there they resumed their duties. By eleven 
on Monday morning orders were being taken as usual, and the 
promptness with which work was commenced after the calamity 
spoke volumes for the organisation of the Wholesale. It is 
also worthy of note that the week's sales, despite the terrible 
upheaval, amounted to £206,247, which constituted a record 
for the Society. It was a trying experience for all who had 
any responsibiUty for carrying on the work, but even those who 
knew the wonderful capacity of the staff were amazed at the 
excellence of the arrangements made. 

The new president might well grow grey in those early years 
of his office, for the Wholesale passed from one trouble to 
another, and these brought their own anxieties even if the 
Society passed out of them creditably. Irritating legislation 
was initiated in Ireland by farmers whose premises were in 
proximity to the S.CW.S. establishment at Enniskillen. An 
action was taken to claim an injunction to restrain the Wholesale 
" from discharging noxious matter " into the lake. The 
pursuers claimed that the sewage from the piggery so polluted 
the water that cattle could not drink of it, and so their lands 


were rendered useless for grazing purposes. The action was 
not reasonable. The Wholesale had created septic tanks for, 
purifying all liquid matter coming from the piggery, and before 
that action was instituted the Society had undertaken to 
remove all possible causes of complaint, and the new system 
had almost been completed at the commencement of the action. 
The case, however, was decided against the Society. About 
the same time the Society figured as pursuer and as defender 
in two actions in the Court of Session. The lessee of the coal 
pit at Calderwood, a man named Armstrong, sued the Society 
for reduction of his lease, for repayment of £200 expended in 
working expenses, and for £750 damages, the action being 
founded on alleged essential error in entering into the lease. 
The S.C.W.S., on the other hand, sought to have the contract 
of lease ended, and Armstrong removed from possession of the 
subjects, and sued for payment of money advances. Armstrong 
denied that he owed any money. The Lord Ordinary granted 
the Society absolvitor in the action against them, and in the 
action which they brought he granted the decree in terms of 
the conclusion of the summons. 

A much more important lawsuit arose in which the S.C.W.S. 
was particularly, if only indirectly, concerned. A popular 
taste in the West of Scotland had developed in favour of an 
exceptionally white loaf, and every effort was being made to 
cater for that taste. At very considerable expense the S.C.W.S. 
secured a plant which, by electrical treatment, bleached the 
flour in the process of milling. The Public Health Authorities 
in Scotland decided to test the legahty of bleached flour. Other 
processes were in use for the same purpose by other millers, 
and we believe that in some cases the whiteness was secured 
by the use of added elements. The outcome of any legal 
proceedings was doubtful ; but it appeared as if the authorities 
recognised that a test case would fail in its purpose if it were 
not properly and fully defended. A prosecution was instituted 
against the Uddingston Co-operative Society for having, in 
response to a demand for i lb. of flour, sold " a quantity of 
material which purported to be flour but which was not genuine 
flour." It was the first prosecution of the kind in Scotland. 
The basis of the charge was that, on analysis, the material was 
found to contain 3-43 per million of nitrates, which was in excess 


of that found in genuine flour. The case came before Sheriff 
Shennan at Hamilton. The flour had been sold to the society 
by the S.C.W.S., and upon the S.C.W.S. lay the onus of 
defending its processes of producing flour. A special hearing 
had to be arranged for 25th March 1912, owing to the number 
of experts that had to be called to discuss the matter from 
technical and scientific points of view. Mr C. D. Murray, K.C., 
appeared for the Society ; experts gave evidence on one side 
to prove how harmful 3"43 per million — ^not per cent. — of 
nitrates could be ; experts gave evidence on the other to prove 
that the bleaching of flour by the Wholesale's methods did not 
involve any adulteration ; but eventually it was decreed that 
the process did affect the flour to the extent stated, and that 
was, technically, a violation. 

The miners' strike of 1912 gave most people in the country 
something to think about. It created a good deal of distress, 
and the S.C.W.S. delegates promptly voted ;^5,ooo to alleviate 
that distress ; but the subject falls to be dealt with more fully 
in a subsequent chapter.* In 1912 the agitation which had 
been proceeding since 1908 for the absorption of the Co-operative 
Insurance Society by the two Wholesale Societies reached its 
end, and the C.I.S. became a joint department of the E. & S 

Another development which matured about the same time 
was the inauguration of the Scottish Co-operative Friendly 
Society, f A meeting of those eligible for membership was 
held in the Clarence Street Hall on nth April, at which it was 
agreed to form the Society, and a provisional committee was 
set up with Mr Peter Glasse as president, Mr Robert Macintosh 
as vice-president, Mr James Sutherland as interim secretary, 
with whom was associated Mr John Pearson representing the 
S.C.W.S., which financed the preliminary proceedings till the 
Friendly Society was properly constituted. On i8th June a 
further meeting was held, when it was reported that the 
committee had received intimations from 2,645 employees of 
the Wholesale that they were prepared to join. Rules prepared 
were submitted ; the society was formally constituted ; appli- 

* See Chapter XV. 

t The Insurance and Friendly Society branches of the business form the 
subject of a special article in the Descriptive Section. 


cation for registration was made and duly received. When these 
preliminaries were completed, Mr WilUam Thomson was 
appointed secretary, and Mr James Sutherland was appointed 
treasurer. The society has had a singularly successful experience, 
and has been so well conducted as to merit special commendation 
from the Insurance Commissioners. 

Meanwhile events had been crowding upon one another. 
Kinning Park Society made an attempt in 1910 to' reawaken 
interest in the superannuation of directors ; but the delegates 
would not even appoint a committee to consider the subject. 
The subject was returned to later, and a special committee, 
appointed in 1913, submitted schemes of superannuation for 
directors and employees. This was discussed in Glasgow in 
June of 1914, but the scheme was rejected. 

In February 1910 the board lost ex-BaiUe Stevenson, who had 
been a member in 1872, and who had been refused re-election, 
after the Ironworks debacle, till 1891, from which date till the 
week before his death he had served continuously and well on 
the board. He was a sturdy Kilmarnock Co-operator, whose 
best friend could not escape his wrath if he did not keep to 
the straight line. Mr Stevenson was succeeded on the board 
by Bailie George Thomson, also the nominee of Kilmarnock, 
who had the distinction of being the first director to be elected 
by ballot vote. On 30th April of the same year there passed 
away Mr John Allan, one of the promoters and the first 
secretary of the Wholesale, who had also been president of the 
Society from 1875 till 1879. The old veteran had lived to see 
fourscore years, and during all that time he had probably never 
lost a friend he had made. On the last day of April he was 
laid to rest in Janefield Cemetery, whither his remains were 
followed by three of his successors at the Wholesale — ^Mr Maxwell, 
Mr Stewart, and Mr Pearson ; besides his old colleague, Mr 
James Deans, and a number of the S.C.W.S. officials who had 
worked under him. In August Mr John Arthur, Paisley 
Provident Society's nominee on the board, found it necessary to 
retire owing to ill-health, after twenty-three years' service. 
He carried the goodwill of the delegates with him into his 
retirement, and as an earnest of this they voted him a parting 
gift of a year's salary — ^then only £200. Unhappily, he was 
not long spared to enjoy his leisure, and in the following spring 


he passed away. His place, in the meantime, had been filled 

by the election of Mr A. B. Weir, of Barrhead. His election 

was unique, in some respects, for it was the result of Barrhead's 

protest against the removal of the dress shirt laundry from 

Barrhead to Paisley — a. change to which the Barrhead 

Co-operators strongly objected. Their objection failed because 

the protest was too late; but Mr Weir's nomination was an 

echo of the discussions on the subject. The year 1912 was 

particularly noteworthy for its changes in personnel. On 22nd 

January Mr Robert Nesbit, of St Cuthbert's, Mr Maxwell's 

successor on the board, passed away suddenly in a nursing 

home where he had undergone what was expected to be a slight 

operation. He had entered the institution on the Thursday 

in excellent spirits^as he nearly always was — ^and the operation 

was successfully performed on the Sunday ; but on Monday 

the patient succumbed to heart failure. He had scarcely 

completed three years' service on the board. His record of 

service in St Cuthbert's, including eighteen years as treasurer, 

was a record entirely creditable ; and no less creditable was 

his fourteen years' service as member of the S.C.W.S. staff 

prior to his election. He was succeeded by a fellow member 

of St Cuthbert's, Mr Charles W. Macpherson, a quiet, plodding, 

unassuming worker, who beheved in doing one job at a time. 

Mr Macpherson was not destined to survive long. In November 

1914 he was compelled to absent himself from his duties, and 

on 3rd February 1915 the end came. It was following his 

death that BaiUe William Archbold was elected to the board ; 

and it may be added that BaiUe Archbold had the unique 

experience of being the first director to be elected with a clear 

majority over all other candidates at the first ballot. Mr Robert 

Watson, who had charge of the catering department of the 

S.C.W.S. for thirteen years, and who had managed the purvey 

department of the United Co-operative Baking Society prior 

to that, died in May 1912 after a prolonged illness ; and a 

successor was found in Mr George Boyle, who filled a similar 

capacity in St Cuthbert's Association. In June of the same 

year Mr John Barrowman, the manager of the Dundee branch, 

whose activities have already been referred to,* retired from 

active service. His valuable labours were acknowledged by 

* See page 112. 


the delegates, who voted him the equivalent of two years' 
salary as a parting gift. The president, at the meeting at which 
this was agreed to, paid a striking tribute to Mr Barrowman's 
disinterested services to the Wholesale from the time he was 
elected treasurer in 1875. His old colleagues on the staff took 
the opportunity of offering him an evidence of their esteem in 
the form of a purse of sovereigns and a complimentary address.,, 
signed by Messrs Robert Macintosh, Ebenezer Ross, Allan Gray, 
and David Gardiner. The presentation took place in the 
S.C.W.S. boardroom, with Mr E. Ross in the chair and a big 
array of the heads of departments present ; and the speeches 
delivered by Mr Ross, Mr Macintosh, Mr Barrowman, and others 
were deHghtfuUy reminiscent. Two and a half years later, in 
January 1915, reminiscences were again in order though under 
more melancholy circumstances, for the veteran had passed to 
his reward, and he was laid to rest in the old Parish Churchyard 
at Tollcross, Glasgow, with the deepest respect his old Wholesale 
associates could show to his memory. Another old worker, 
who retired from service in 1912, was Mr James Davidson, the 
manager of the Society's building department. He had acted 
as master of works for many years, during which he had 
supervised the erection of many of the Society's properties 
95 Morrison Street being his most noteworthy monument ; but 
he had also given his services unhesitatingly to the Convalescent 
Homes Association, and the committee of that association had 
taken means to show their appreciation of his interest in the 
erection of the SeamiU Home and the extension of Abbotsview. 
He gave up his responsibiUty in 1912 ; but for a short time he 
retained a connection with his old department in a consultative 
capacity, the management of the department being handed over 
to his assistant, Mr WiUiam Mercer, who still retains the 

Two more changes have to be recorded. Within a month 
of each other, the one in June and the other in July, Mr Henry 
Murphy and Mr Isaac Macdonald passed away. Mr Murphy, 
who had been one of the first directors of the Lanark Provident 
Society, was president of that society in 1912 when its jubilee 
celebrations were in progress. He was a director of the 
S.C.W.S. in 1877 ; and he was on one occasion nominated for 
the presidency in opposition to Mr Maxwell. In his earlier 


years on the board he created a good deal of stir, and when he 
was not on the board he did the same from the delegates' 
benches. In 1890, after some time out of office, he was 
re-elected to the board, and held his seat till death rendered it 
vacant. His progressive ideas and his cultured platform powers 
made him one of the best known Co-operators in the country. 
Mr Isaac Macdonald, on the other hand, was not a platform 
personality, and he dreaded the ordeal of being regarded as 
such. He was on the board in 1875, but retired at the end of 
that year. In 1882 he was re-elected, but the following year 
he found it necessary to retire again. So highly was he esteemed 
in Dumbarton that he was once more returned in 1888, and 
he remained till the end in 1912. He was a shrewd adviser, 
and his death was lamented by nobody more than by the heads 
of departments of the Wholesale who had frequent negotiations 
with him. The two vacancies in the board were filled at the 
same time ; but the dual election caused a good deal of lively 
interest, and it was not tiU a fifth ballot had been taken that 
Mr WiUiam GaUacher, of LarkhaU, and Mr T. B. StirUng, the 
manager of the Vale of Leven Society, were declared elected. 
The melancholy tale of deaths in 1912 would not be complete 
without reference to the passing of one of the veterans of the 
movement who was scarcely known to the younger generation. 
This was Mr Robert Murray, of Barrhead, who, in his eighty-four 
years, had played a very important part in the Co-operative 
fife of the community although his term of service on the 
S.C.W.S. directorate, commenced in 1880, was not of very long 
duration. He had been a familiar figure at Renfrewshire 
conferences ; but for a good many years before his death he 
had retired from active participation in Co-operative affairs. 
His death was the result of an accident which broke his leg, 
and his advanced years rendered him too weak to recover. 

It would almost seem from what has gone that the new 
chairman's reign had been one of incessant trouble ; but it was 
not so. We have already enumerated some of the advances 
that had been made. In 191 1 motor engineering* was added 
to the Society's enterprises. The dress shirt factory was 
removed to Paisley in 1912, and the Leith Co-operators, 
annoyed at losing their factory which was transferred to be 
* See Descriptive Section. 


under the same roof as the laundry, were consoled with the 
inauguration of a new hosiery factory. Numerous purchases 
were made for developments, including property at Kilmarnock 
(1912), the site of the valuable property at Smith Street, 
Kinning Park (1912), additional ground in Paterson Street 
(1913), the Ayrshire blanket mills at Galston (1913), the 
Wallace Street property (1913), additional grouijd at Shieldhall 
(1914), the St James Street site (1914) on which the Kinning 
Park aerated water factory has been erected, and the site and 
property between Dundas Street, Morrison Street, and Clarence 
Street on which the new grocery warehouse is being erected. 

The most important venture of aU was the West African 
enterprise.* It was not of the nature of what is known in 
international politics as the the " African adventure," which 
is the outcome of a spirit of imperialism and exploitation. The 
movement had been clamouring for sources of supplies of raw 
material which would place Co-operative factories beyond the 
power of capitalist concerns bent upon cornering these com- 
modities. An agitation had been vigorously carried on in the 
Co-operative Press and on the Co-operative platform, and it 
was in search of supplies, chiefly for the margarine and soap 
factories, that the S.C.W.S. dispatched its expedition to the 
Gold Coast. Mr Robert Stewart, Mr James Young, and Mr 
Robert Macintosh had been on business missions before, but 
it is doubtful whether they undertook any mission of greater 
importance. They went to secure land upon which supplies 
could be cultivated under conditions which would give the 
natives no reason to regard Scottish Co-operators otherwise 
than as friends, and as a result of their journey valuable 
concessions were secured, the nature of which is described in 
the article on overseas enterprises. They set off in April 1914, 
and their journey occupied eleven weeks. Other deputations 
have gone there since then, but to those three must be paid 
the honours due to pioneers. 

The West African mission had scarcely returned when the 
war cloud broke. The year had opened seriously enough for 
the Wholesale, for in January the boot factory at Shieldhall 
was gutted by fire, and very serious inconvenience was occasioned, 
while productive work was completely disorganised for a time. 

* See Descriptive Section. 


Such disorganisation as that could be got over, and was got 
over because of the resources of the Wholesale and the business 
capacity of the directors and staff. The disorganisation caused 
by the war was different, for the directors and staff were no 
longer masters of their own actions, and they had to bow to 
the stem necessities of war. 

The greatest injury the war did was the injury to the 
propagation of the international ideals of Co-operation. For 
years internationaUsm in Co-operation had been preached. 
The idea came from France, and French Co-operators, appealing 
at the Co-operative Congress at Derby in 1884, had secured the 
appointment of a committee to promote correspondence with^ 
Co-operators abroad. British, French, and Italian Co-operators 
took up the new movement with vigour. At Carhsle in 1887 
the British Co-operative Congress declared it to be expedient 
to form an International Co-operative Alliance " for the 
promotion of Co-operative organisation and social peace." 
Mr E. 0. Greening — the companion and associate of Holyoake, 
Vansittart Neale, Judge Hughes, and other Co-operative giants 
of a generation ago — was the first secretary of the AUiance. 
A great meeting of representative leaders of European Co- 
operative organisations had been held in London in 1893, and 
this meeting paved the way for the first International Co-operative 
Congress, which was also held in London, in 1895. In 1896 
and 1897 Congresses were held at Paris and Delft ; but the pace 
was too fast in view of the difficulty of making arrangements 
for the proper organisation of the Congress and for the proper 
utihsation of the time at the disposal of the delegates. In 
1900, 1902, and 1904 Congresses were held at Paris, Manchester, 
and Budapest ; and at intervals of three years thereafter 
similar gatherings were held at Cremona, Hamburg, and Glasgow. 
These Congresses had brought the working people of Europe 
into closer contact. Co-operators from Glasgow and Edinburgh 
and Aberdeen had heard Co-operators from Moscow and 
Hamburg and Vienna and Paris and Milan making speeches, 
which, when translated at the Congresses, breathed exactly the 
same views as they themselves expressed. They saw how 
Co-operators in other lands were working to overcome the same 
economic and social disadvantages as beset Co-operators in 
this country. They began to understand one another better. 


They began to see that human nature was much the same 
everywhere, and they were awakening to the fact that there is 
no river, or mountain range, or artificial frontier on one side 
of which all is virtue and on the other side of which all is vice 
and chicanery. Side by side with the International Congresses 
there had sprung up a movement for organised Co-operative 
tours in which those interested might take part. These, too, 
brought the Co-operators of the Continent in closer contact 
with ourselves ; for whether the trips were organised to take 
British Co-operators to the Continent or to take Continental 
Co-operators to this country, the effect was the same — they 
broke down the barriers of misunderstanding which centuries 
of national prejudices and suspicions had raised, and they 
conduced to the spread of international amity and brotherhood. 
While Co-operators were being awakened by these international 
exchanges, the Socialist International and the International 
Federation of Trade Unions had also been at work breeding a 
spirit of kinship and comradeship among the working people 
of the world. The French and the German Co-operators, 
British and Russian Co-operators, Austrian and Italian Co- 
operators, descendants of those who had fought one another 
even in living memory, began to realise that, whatever their 
traditional ideas of each other had been, the peoples of the 
different nations had no animosity, and had no reason to have 
animosity towards each other ; and the feeling grew that the 
spirit of competition and profitmongering — to which Co-operation 
in every country was opposed — had begotten the wars of the 
past. From Co-operative platforms in every country the 
competition of armament firms, which could only live on the 
proceeds of war or preparation for war, was denounced. At 
one international gathering after another Co-operators pointed 
out that, if the wild competition as to which nation could pUe 
up the greatest armaments were allowed to continue, war would 
be the inevitable result. Politicians, on the other hand, said : 
Prepare for war and peace will ensue. The tragedy of 1914 
gives melancholy testimony as to which contention was right. 
Rightly or wrongly, as readers of varied views may feel, the 
international Co-operative platform stood out for the Umitation 
and:,. ultimate abolition of armaments, for the eradication of 
racial prejudices, and for universal peace. In 1909, at the 


Co-operative Congress at Newcastle, the delegates — prompted 
by the efforts of the Daily Mail to create bitterness between 
Germany and ourselves — passed a resolution denouncing these 
attempts to arouse feelings calculated to lead to war. Mr 
Stewart, the chairman of the S.C.W.S., seconded that resolution. 
It was not proposed because of any British preference for 
Germany ; for, if the Daily Mail's efforts had been directed to 
creating enmity between France and ourselves, a similar 
resolution would have been passed with equal readiness. 

In 1913, when the International Co-operative AUiance held 
its triennial Congress in Glasgow, under the presidency of 
Mr Maxwell, one of the most deUghtful events was the passing 
of a resolution by which the Co-operators represented by the 
AlHance pledged themselves to work for universal peace.* The 
resolution was supported by speeches from Mr Maxwell as 
representing Great Britain, M. Albert Thomas as representing 
France, Herr Von Elm as representing Germany, M. O. DehU 
as representing the Scandinavian countries ; and there were 
others less weU known. The Congress was one of the most 
representative the Alliance had held. About eighteen countries 
were represented by delegates ; but if the political divisions of 
Europe had been those that have resulted from the war, the 
number of states represented would have been about twenty- 
three or twenty-four; and two hundred of the delegates came 

* The following is the text of the resolution : — " That this Congress 
fully endorses the action recently taken by the executive and central 
committees of the International Co-operative Alliance in order to 
manifest that it is in the interests of the Co-operators of all countries to 
do their best to uphold peace. The Congress emphasises once more that 
the maintenance of peace and goodwill among all nations constitutes an 
essential condition for the development of Co-operation and the realisation 
of those ends which are aimed at by this movement. The Congress 
further desires to impress upon the public opinion of all nations the fact 
that the reasons for the continuance of armaments and the possibility 
of international conflicts will disappear as the social and economic life 
of every nation becomes organised according to Co-operative principles, 
and that, therefore, the progress of Co-operation forms one of the most 
valuable guarantees for the preservation of the world's peace. The 
Congress, therefore, exhorts the people of every country to join our 
movement and strengthen their power. The International Congress of 
the Alliance declares itself in amity with all the Co-operators of the 
world, and welcomes any action they may take in this direction or in 
which they may participate. Congress also welcomes all demonstrations 
made or to be made by other organisations with the same aim." 


from countries outside of the United Kingdom. The membership 
of the Co-operative organisations in the countries represented 
exceeded twenty millions, and, as in this country, most of these 
members were heads of families, so that the great peace resolution 
was carried with enthusiasm by delegates speaking in the name of 
nearly a hundred milUon people with Co-operative interests. 
A hundred million Europeans of common aim could make war 
impossible. The resolution thrilled the imagination and gave 
rise to a hope of a glorious future when the wisdom of the people 
of the world would find some amicable means of settling their 
disputes without recourse to the red arbitrament of war ; but, less 
than a year later, the war-cloud burst, and to Co-operators all 
over Europe, who had cherished the hope of "a world safe for 
democracy " — to anticipate President Wilson's great ideal — 
the coming of war with all its horrors seemed to sweep away 
the pillars upon which the whole future rested. 

The first concern of the S.C.W.S. staff was to avert the food 
panic to which the nation seemed to be rushing headlong even 
before Great Britain declared war, and for its services in that 
direction the nation owes a measure of gratitude to the 
Wholesale and its staff that is not yet fully paid. This first 
great service was of incalculable value. Britain had scarcely 
become a belligerent when the employees in the various 
departments met, and decided to levy themselves weekly for 
relief funds which they knew would be indispensable. The 
directors decided that employees who were Territorials or 
Reservists, all of whom were called out, and those who 
volunteered for service with the Colours, should have their 
jobs kept open for them, and should be paid an allowance 
which, added to their military pay, would leave their 
dependants in the same position financially as when the 
employee was at work. In the first month of war 300 S.C.W.S. 
employees went to the Colours. At the first meeting of the 
shareholders they voted ;f5,ooo to the Prince of Wales' Fund, 
£500 to the Belgian ReUef Fund, and £500 extra for hospitals 
in view of possible needs. Horses, motor cars, and material 
were commandeered. The factories of the Wholesale were put 
at the disposal of the Government for the production of clothing 
and boots and foodstuffs, and the whole great trading 
organisation which had taken nearly fifty years to build up 


was similarly devoted to the public service. Nevertheless, 
the Government failed to realise what all this meant, and at 
times it would seem as if the Government was bent on putting 
obstacles in the way of a Co-operative contribution to the great 
task of saving the country. This mentahty on the part of the 
Government was inexpUcable. The competitive system had 
broken down completely. The Government had had to abolish 
competition so far as railways were concerned. The banks, 
threatened with chaos, had to be closed for extra " Bank 
HoUdays," to give their managers time to think and to consult 
with the Government, ajid the famous Moratorium was declared. 
Shops were invaded for supplies, and the wealthy crowded doWn 
to shops in working-class areas to buy up sugar which was, in 
•consequence, raised to 6d. per lb., while Co-operative stores 
kept selling normal supphes to members at the old price of 
2^d. per lb. The managers of a few co-operative societies 
that had been purchasing goods from private merchants foimd 
their sources of supply gone — except at ransom prices — ^and 
had to fall back upon the Wholesale Society for goods. It 
taught them a lesson ; and, although it imposed an added 
■demand upon the resources of the Wholesale, their demands 
■were met as few of the large commercial houses could have 
met them, and at prices which were not influenced by any 
profiteering instinct. The economic usefulness of the S.C.W.S. 
during the war period faUs more properly into the scope of a 
■subsequent chapter ;* but these preliminary experiences must 
be dealt with here. One other act may weU be disposed of in 
this chapter. Calderwood Castle was handed over to Belgian 
refugees ; and in the beginning of October there were about 
200 of them housed there, and were able to rest there, with 
some peace of mind, amid charming surroundings well calciolated 
to make them forget the singing of the shells and the sight of 
devastated homes and shrines, ruined fields, and reddened 
rivers. It was not exactly " home " to them ; but they did 
feel a sense of restfulness when they approached the castle for 
the first time by the stately avenue, and their eyes drank in 
the beauties of the glen, the glories of the wooded slopes, the 
surging Calder, and the wonderful charms of the lovely estate. 
The Belgian guests at Calderwood were well fed and all their 

» " The Economic laflueace of the Wholesale." 







































material wants were well attended to. There were one or two 
deaths during their stay, children were born, and marriages 
took place. A school was established with a Belgian teacher. 
The refugees were nearly all Roman CathoUcs, and a priest 
travelled to Calderwood every Sunday to conduct their services 
in the large hall provided by the Wholesale. One of the 
Society's motor cars was put at his disposal to convey him 
there from Glasgow and to take him home, and this consideration 
was highly appreciated by the Catholic authorities and warmly 
commended by the CathoUc press. Social gatherings were 
arranged at frequent intervals, and a real St Nicholas festival 
was held every Christmas, when gifts were presented to young 
and old alike. Not least of the services rendered to them was 
in the supply of clothing when the first contingent arrived — 
those who had had to fly without preparation. The refugees 
were made to feel at home if that were at all possible. The 
president of the S.C.W.S. took a lively interest in the welfare 
of the Belgians ; but the way in which Mrs Stewart mothered 
the party from the first contingent's arrival till the end of the 
war was something that, perhaps more than any other con- 
sideration shown them, tended to dispel the gloom of their exile. 
The Wholesale had a good deal of work on hand when the 
war interfered. Several building extensions, for example, were 
in contemplation or required ; the trade unions were appeaUng 
to the directors to carry on so as to prevent unemployment, 
while the delegates were warning the directors against embarking: 
upon these undertakings at a time so fraught with uncertainty. 
Factories had to be kept going, but people were reluctant to< 
spend money on boots or clothing unless they were almost 
compelled to. The Government settled these problems in its 
own way. It restricted building on the one hand, and it 
monopolised much of the productive capacity of the S.C.W.S. 
by issuing orders for cloth and clothes and boots and food. 
The food supplies were kept up by the Wholesale so long as 
suppUes were obtainable. Prices were kept down so long as 
that was possible. The Wholesale, however, did not manufacture 
everything ; for raw materials for many of its factories it had 
to depend upon the markets ; when it found supplies of goods,, 
it had to satisfy the demands of the shippers ; when supplies, 
of sugar were allotted to it by the Sugar Commission, no regard. 


was paid by the Commission to the fact that the membership 
of societies had increased enormously owing to the influx of 
people who resented profiteering. 

The whole Co-operative movement took the field at the 
beginning of the war to demand Government action against 
the ramp in prices. The Government professed its inability to 
control prices or to control freights, although the Wholesale 
Society's entire machinery was at its disposal to prevent prices 
from rising, and its evidence was available to show when prices 
rose needlessly. Flour, tea, sugar, margarine, bread, and other 
necessaries were being sold to the stores by the S.C.W.S. at prices 
at which managers could not buy elsewhere. That was why 
the membership of the societies grew and why the sales from 
the Wholesale and the productions in the S.C.W.S. factories 
went up so rapidly as they did. The Aberdeen Northern 
Society, which owned its own steamer for carrjdng coal from 
Newcastle, found that 6d. per ton added to the pre-war freight 
covered all the extra war risks, extra insurance, a.nd increases 
in the wages of sailors and dockers ; while the freight of coal 
carried in privately owned vessels from Newcastle to London 
i(the same distance, the same risks, and the same increases in 
wages, insurance, and charges) was increased by 11/ per ton 
at the beginning of 1915 ; and this society sold its coal at only 
one shilling per ton more to the members than in pre-war times. 
But the Goverrmient said it " could not " control either freight 
or coal, although it did so eventually. When it did begin, 
prices had almost reached the limit that patience would stand, 
and it almost invariably happened that the control of price 
-was a signal for the commodity to disappear from the market. 
The president put it very concisely at one of the Wholesale 
meetings when he said that the profiteers had no particular 
reason to quarrel with the Controllers, for the Controllers or 
their Commissions gave ample evidence that the interests of 
brokers, commission agents, and other middlemen — ^to say 
nothing of the railway and shipping shareholders and the 
farmers — ^were to be considered before the interests of the 
consumers on whose behalf Control was inaugurated. Co- 
operators, agreeing that Control was desirable, exerted themselves 
±0 have Control so exercised that the consumers would gain ; 
but they gave up the attempt as hopeless. 


The " excess profits " duty, which was advocated by 
Co-operators early in 1915 as a means of keeping down prices, 
was eventually resorted to. It was badly applied, because it 
provided in effect that the sellers could make what profit they 
pleased so long as they shared with the Treasury. It was made, 
also, to apply to Co-operative societies, which, according to 
the Government's own experts, did not make trade profits at 
all. As originally appKed, it meant that if the surplus divided 
among the members of the society was more than in the standard 
period, the tax was imposed. The effect was anomalous. 
Prices had gone up by almost fifty per cent. A member of a 
society who bought £10 worth of food found it necessary to 
pay £15 for the same goods. With a dividend of 10 per cent, 
on purchases — 20/ in the first case and 30/ in the other — ^his 
net outlay meant, at the two periods, £g and £13, los. ; so 
that, while the altered circumstances represented a net loss of 
£4, los. he was charged excess profits duty on 10/. Sub- 
sequently the procedure was changed, and the tax was not 
imposed unless the rate per £ of dividend was higher than in 
the standard period ; but the change was not obtained without 
a great deal of agitation. Mr Bonar Law, in time, did confess 
in the House of Commons that the tax had applied to Co-operative 
societies in a way that was not intended, which must have 
been true when it is observed that a society's " profits " might 
be greater in amount than before, owing to the increased prices, 
■while the rate of profit was lower. As it was, the Co-operators 
contended that the tax should operate as a means of keeping 
down prices, whereas, as the Government designed it, it was meant 
as a source of revenue, and did not lower prices except in Co- 
operative stores. Besides, Co-operators felt that the dividends 
Tvhich went to them on purchases were equivalent to a reduction in 
price, and as the society could not make profit out of itself, 
there was no just reason why the tax should be imposed upon 
them even if the rate of dividend rose. The traders, the 
Chambers of Commerce, and even the Convention of Scottish 
Burghs, all combined, however, to demand that Income Tax 
in addition should be imposed upon dividends. 

The constant irritation arising from the disposition of the 
Government to ignore the consumers' big Co-operative 
organisation led to one important change in Co-operative poUcy. 


Referring to these matters at the September meeting in 1916, 
the president declared: "We must organise the Co-operative 
vote in such a way as will force the Government to listen to 
our demands." Six months later, in April 1917, the Scottish 
National Co-operative Conference declared for pohtical action ; 
at the annual Co-operative Congress at Swansea in the same 
year the whole movement similarly decreed for political action. 
The Government's methods still tended in the same direction ; 
a special emergency conference was called in London later in 
the year, at which the constitution of the Co-operative 
political organisation was drawn up ; in 1918 the first 
Co-operative candidate had fought on the Co-operative ticket 
alone in a Parliamentary election, and in 191 8 three Co-operative 
candidates contested Scottish constituencies in the General 
Election — ^Mr H. J. May in Clackmannan, Mr J. M. Biggar in 
Paisley, and Mr Peter Malcolm in Kilmarnock. Thus the 
Government's contumelious methods during the war drove the 
Co-operative movement to do what it had persistently dechned 
to do during a period of twenty years in which the advisabihty 
of using the political weapon had been discussed. It did more, 
for while the movement had discussed a proposal by Mr Maxwell 
for a fusion of Co-operation with other forces aiming at the 
emancipation of the workers, the Co-operative Congress, in 
1 91 7 at Swansea, and the Trade Unions Congress in the same 
year set up a national advisory council of Co-operators and 
trade unionists, the members of which were appointed by the 
Central Board of the Co-operative Union and the Parliamentary 
Committee of the Trade Unions Congress ; while the Scottish 
National Co-operative Conference formulated a constitution for 
a Scottish Co-operative and Labour Council on which Co- 
operators were appointed by the S.C.W.S. and the Scottish 
Sectional Board of the Co-operative Union, trade union 
representatives were appointed by the Parliamentary Committee 
of the Scottish Trade Unions Congress, and members were also 
appointed by the Scottish Labour Party. The first result of 
these creations was seen in the close co-operation of Co-operators, 
trade unionists, and Labourists at Parliamentary and local 
elections ; while any other matter of common interest to these 
bodies was within the scope of their charter from the constituent 
assemblies of all three movements in Scotland. 


Societies in Scotland that did best for their members and 
which attracted most recruits readily acknowledged that they 
had been able to do so because of the great strength of the 
Wholesale Society. How the Wholesale benefited the societies 
is best indicated by the fact that in the first four years of war 
the membership of the retail societies increased by 115,000 — ■ 
an increase greater than had been registered in the ten years 
preceding the war, although as the years advanced the field for 
recruiting grew more and more restricted. 

The five years of war brought troubles apart from those 
for which the war was responsible. In February of 1915 
Chancelot Mill was involved in a fire. Damage was done to the 
extent of nearly £1,000 ; but in view of the disaster that might 
have resulted, the Society's shareholders were happy to have 
escaped so lightly. The directors were periodically criticised 
for being affiliated with organisations like the masters in the 
printing and kindred trades and several Chambers of Commerce. 
The view was generally held that nothing was to be gained 
from association with such bodies, and the board's only 
justification for membership of the Chambers of Commerce, like 
that of other members of such bodies, was that it was in their 
trade interests. In most cases, however, their connection with 
such bodies ceased. So far as the masters' federations were 
concerned, the board had little option as some of the larger 
trade unions would only deal with bodies representing all the 
employers ; but where possible the board has kept free from 
entanglements with such associations. 

Death made further inroads upon the directorate. Mr James 
Wilson, who had been a member of the board since 1908, and 
who had had a varied Co-operative experience, was seized with 
a heart attack in London, but he was able to be conveyed home 
to Dunfermhne where he died in January 1914. A man of 
regular and temperate habits, he was not averse to work while 
his strength lasted, and notwithstanding his searching criticisms 
and readiness for debate, some of his best and most intimate 
friends were those who were oftenest measuring blades with 
him. His successor was the treasurer of the Dunfermline 
Society, Mr John Bardner. Mr John Macintyre, who had been 
a director from 1877 till 1882, and who had been manager of 
the potato department of the S.C.W.S. till his retirement in 


1914, passed away before Christmas of that year. Mr Peter 
Glasse, a Trojan worker in his day, passed away in March 1917. 
Mr Glasse was in fighting form till a few weeks before his death, 
when he had an experience such as had been common to him. 
He had acted as a sort of godfather to the Society's retail branch 
at Aberfoyle, and at his suggestion a good deal of propaganda 
had been engaged in in the district. A lecture and concert, 
and a distribution of samples of Co-operative productions, had 
been arranged for Bucklyvie in February. The haU was 
secured, and on the day preceding the event Colonel Crawford, 
who had control of the hall, gave orders that the meeting could 
proceed only on the understanding that there must be no 
speeches on behalf of Co-operation: The meeting was abandoned 
in consequence of this order. Mr W. C. Anderson, at the 
request of the Glasgow Civil Liberties Committee, asked in 
Parliament, on 19th March, as to the authority for such 
procedure ; but no answer was forthcoming, except that the 
matter would be inquired into. A year or two earlier such a 
happening would have given life to Mr Glasse ; but his death 
took place on the day following Mr Anderson's question. The 
vacancy in the board was filled by the election of Mr Hugh 
Campbell, the secretary of Cowlairs Society, who had long been 
a regular attender at Wholesale meetings. The election was 
noteworthy, for it produced the first woman candidate for the 
board in the person of Miss Clarice M'Nab, the daughter of 
Mr T. C. M'Nab, a former director ; but her total vote was 
only 98, which gave her sixth place in the first ballot against 
Mr Campbell's 333. 

Meanwhile progress was being made at a phenomenal rate. 
Despite the war, properties and possessions were being 
multiplied. Retail branches* were opened at West Barns and 
Buckie in 1914. In connection with the latter it is worthy of 
note that efforts had been made by another body to organise 
the fishing population on the East coast on lines which were 
not satisfactory. The idea was that the fishermen, by paying 
a subscription, would be entitled to a card which, on its being 
presented at certain shops in coast towns, would secure them 
a special discount. It was not a new idea. It had been 
practised before ; but it did not eliminate the interest of private 
* See Descriptive Section. 


profit as Co-operative trading did. The scheme was resented, 
and exposed in the Co-operative News because of its unco- 
operative character and because, while the body promoting 
the scheme professed to be friendly to the Co-operative 
movement, it attempted to inaugurate this scheme when the- 
S.C.W.S. had agreed to establish retail stores at Buckie,, 
Peterhead, and Banff, and had already its propagandist in 
Buckie enrolling purchasers and making the preliminary 
arrangements. The promoters and the Co-operative Union 
had some correspondence on the subject, and no more was heard 
of that unco-operative venture. The retail branch at Aberfoyle 
was opened in March 1915, and the Forres, Banff, and Peterhead 
branches followed very shortly afterwards. A grain buying 
depot was opened, and the Crichie meal miU, at Fyvie, was 
acquired in 1915 ; property being secured in Dall Street and 
Poplar Lane, Leith, before the close of the year. In 1916 
additional ground was bought at Shieldhall, and at last land 
was bought in Canada for grain-growing purposes. This was 
the Weitzen farms at Forgan (Sask.), extending to 10,000 acres. 
It was bought as a joint property for the two Wholesale 
Societies ; but it was only intended as the first instalment of 
Co-operative grain-growing land ; and a small instalment it 
was, for it was calculated that the S.C.W.S. alone would require 
about 250,000 acres to grow the grain needed for its own mills. 
Nevertheless it was a beginning, and the removal of obstacles 
in the way of shipping and importing may see further additions 
to the Wholesale's Canadian possessions. It had even been 
proposed in 1915, at the June meeting, that the Wholesale 
should acquire ships for its own overseas trade ; and there was 
a healthy discussion on this proposal, which emanated from the 
Douglas Water Society. This big question was remitted to the 
directors ; but war conditions made it then impossible to regard 
the project as at all practical. An important venture was the 
purchase of the Taybank jute works* in 1917, which brought 
another new industry to the Wholesale. The purchase of the 
Springside estate at West Kilbride (1917), ground at Crookston 
Street, Glasgow (1918), additional ground at Bladnoch (1918), 
Girtrig meal mill, Ayrshire {1918), additional creameries in 
Wigtownshire and Ballymoney (Ireland), and ground in 
* See Descriptive Section. 


.Scotland Street, Glasgow (1918), also showed how the Wholesale 
-was preparing for greater activities when the period of 
reconstruction dawned. 

Greater preparations were being made, for the directors of 
the two Wholesale Societies had been considering the question 
of closer working agreements, and, in 1916, they were even 
approaching the question of amalgamation. The S.C.W.S. 
delegates raised no serious objection to these deliberations so 
long as the directors recognised that the S.C.W.S. could not 
he committed to amalgamation without the consent of the 
shareholders. The directors fully realised that. There was a 
growing desire in the minds of the C.W.S. to get closer to the 
Scottish Wholesale in connection with joint productive efforts. 
The Scottish Wholesale directors, on their part, were exceedingly 
anxious to do all they possibly could to assist the C.W.S. 
directors, as the C.W.S. were wiUing to assist them ; because it 
was for the welfare of the movement. The S.C.W.S. were 
associated with the C.W.S. in Ceylon and India, and also in 
Africa ; a deputation had gone to Canada, and the C.W.S. had 
made the request that they should be allowed to appoint 
representatives to accompany that deputation with a view to 
co-operating with the S.C.W.S. The working agreements were 
linking up great interests, and many post-war schemes were 
being planned. 

The deputation which went to Canada and the United States 
in 1916 represented the two Wholesales — ^Messrs W. Lander, 
Ti G. Arnold, A. H. Hobley, and James Lord from the C.W.S., 
and Messrs T. B. Stirling, J. Bardner, and W. F. Stewart from 
the S.C.W.S. It was on their joint recommendation that the 
Weitzen farm was purchased, but they also recommended the 
fusion of the interests of the two societies in Canada and the 
United States. These proposals had been considered by the 
two boards, and were further considered; and a draft of a 
proposed agreement was discussed at the September meeting 
in 1917. The agreement was simply an extension of the 
existing partnership which covered the tea warehouse in London, 
the cocoa works at Luton, the tea estates in Ceylon and Southern 
India, and the branch at Accra (West Africa). It was proposed 
to provide a new agreement to cover the S.C.W.S. Winnipeg 
depot, the wheat elevators and investments in Canada ; Weitzen 


iarm (Canada) ; the C.W.S. depots at Montreal and New York ; 
Ihe S.C.W.S. property, leases, and land concessions at Dominose 
and Ayenasu (Gold Coast) ; the C.W.S. property, leases, and 
land concessions at Sierra Leone and Lagos ; and the C.W.S. 
African oil mill at Liverpool. The tea agreement provided that 
■the C.W.S. should provide three-fourths of the capital required, 
and the S.C.W.S. one-fourth ; and that the representation on 
the committee of management should be in the same pro- 
portions. The S.C.W;S. directors had decided, by a majority, 
"that the same arrangement should cover the interests now 
proposed to be included. There was a minority of the board 
-which thought that capital and representation should be equal 
from both societies, and these terms were discussed when the 
proposal came before the quarterly meeting. In the end a 
decision was delayed, on the motion of Mr D. H. Gerrard, and 
a vigorous discussion was carried on in the Co-operative Press 
for the better part of three months. The S.C.W.S. president 
■was very strong in urging that after the war it would be 
necessary to link up with the interests of the C.W.S. in Spain, 
Denmark, Montreal, and New York, in a way in which they 
had not been Unked up in the past. The S.C.W.S. had no 
money invested in these, and it was only as a matter of courtesy 
that the C.W.S. consulted them regarding butter from Denmark, 
fniit from Spain, and other such matters. They were charged 
for a share of the expense, and there was a commission charge ; 
but that was all. The board thought there should be some 
proper agreement that would hnk up all these various agencies. 
When the matter came before the December quarterly meeting 
there was a battle royal on the question of representation and 
■capital, Mr Gallacher putting the case for the minority on the 
board ; but by 600 votes against 164 the terms of the agreement 
were approved, and thus the S.C.W.S. delegates gave their 
impetus to a big movement with almost unlimited possibilities. 
It is fitting to close this chapter with a reference to the 
increases which had been recorded to the credit of the Wholesale 
Society during the last and greatest decade of the five repre- 
sented by its fifty years and the first decade of the new 
president's regime. Every year of the decade had marked a 
big onward stride, for the success of the Wholesale in catering 
to advantage for the retail societies had increased the membership 


of these societies, and that in turn created a demand for fresh 
enterprise on the part of the S.C.W.S. During the ten years, 
covered by the chapter, the shares held by societies^ — one for 
each member — ^had increased by 204,334 ; the shares held by 
employees had increased by 11,585 ; the capital by £2,481,523 ; 
and the net sales by £11,685,637. During the ten years the- 
" profits " available for distribution to the purchasers amounted 
to no less than £3,736,987. It was a remarkable advance ; for, 
while prices were higher, there was a great clearance of healthy 
young Co-operators into the Army, and their supplies were not 
required from the Co-operative stores ; but there was also an 
enormous increase in the quantity of the goods sold. The 
amount of the increase in sales, £11,685,637, is higher than the 
total amount of sales for the year 1915 when the S.C.W.S. had 
been forty-seven years in existence. The increase was accounted 
for by the fact that Co-operation had been discovered to be a 
bulwark of defence for the consumer. As for the directors who 
conducted these great operations, it could not be alleged against 
them that they were feathering their nests. Once, in the course 
of the war, it was proposed to increase their salaries ; but the 
proposal was disapproved of by the delegates. It was renewed 
in 1 916 when the directors received increases which gave the 
president £400, the secretary £375, and the directors £300 each 
when the trade was about 14J millions per annum. In March 
1918 each was granted a war bonus of £50 per annum which 
brought the emoluments up to £450 for the president, £425 for 
the secretary, and £350 for the directors — ^approximately 40 per 
cent, over pre-war rates.* 

* In March 1919 the War Bonus was increased by ;£100, and later in 
the year the bonus was merged in salaries and a further increase voted 
which made the salaries of the president and secretary ;£600 and of the 
directors £500. 



The foregoing chapters have described the steps by which the 
S.C.W.S. became what it was in its Jubilee year, and so far as 
possible they have attempted to indicate the conceptions of 
the men and women who worked for its establishment and for 
its progress. We have come to the stage when we have to 
attempt to present to the reader a picture of what the Scottish 
Co-operative Wholesale Society is after fifty years of labour 
by those who deemed it an essential part of the machinery by 
which consumers might protect themselves from exploitation 
and ease their economic burdens. If, before the end of the 
chapter is reached, readers not interested in Co-operation feel 
tempted to say that greater concerns have been created in 
shorter periods, we must beg them to remember that the- 
S.C.W.S. was the creation of men of the same class that 
created the smallest village store of which the reader has any 
knowledge. They were men, except in rare cases, whose income 
never rose above the pittance paid to the artisan or the labourer, 
and sometimes the irregularly employed artisan or labourer. 
They could not save much money because more than they 
earned was required for food, and, not having money or 
possessions of their own, they could not call up large amounts 
of capital as some of the get-rich-quick company promoters of 
to-day can. There were cases in which money would have been 


advanced to these men by employers and others because of 
their own sterling character, but help of that kind was regarded 
as derogatory and was never sought or accepted except in very 
few cases.* In the case of the Wholesale Society there was no 
money from such sources ; and, as we have pointed out in the 
story of the Wholesale at the period of the Ironworks disaster, 
ordinary trade credit was sometimes refused to the S.C.W.S. 
This has to be borne in mind when contemplating the structure 
of the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society. 

Allowing for these handicaps, the S.C.W.S. is an organisation 
which wealthy, educated, and successful business men would 
be happy to call their own, and is an organisation to which the 
Co-operators of Scotland point with the greatest possible pride. 
It is a great distributive agency which regards no commodity, 
-except alcoholic Uquor, as outwith its scope, and there are few 
commodities it does not supply to its shareholding societies. 
At the end of the Jubilee year it had 261 members (all registered 
societies), which held 597,883 shares on the basis of one share 
(20/) per member of each society ; besides which 25,791 shares 
(20/) were held by the Society's own employees. Of the total 
share capital only £2,583, iis. id. remained unpaid. The total 
paid-up share capital of the Society, therefore, amounted to 
£621,090, 8s. iid. If by any mishap that were lost no individual 
Co-operator would lose more than 20/, and it is this sense of 
■collective interest and ownership and safety which gives strength 
and prestige to the S.C.W.S. A society or an employee, appl5dng 
for shares — which are transferable and not withdrawable — must 
deposit not less than one shilling on each share taken. The 
unpaid portion of the shares may be paid up from dividend or 
interest; but any member may pay up shares in full or in part at 
any time. No member whose shares are not fully paid up] is 
allowed to withdraw either dividend or interest. By these 
methods the £621,090 of share capital has been accumulated. 

That would not be sufficient capital to run a business of the 
dimensions of the S.C.W.S., and the Wholesale therefore relies 
upon the loan capital, or deposits, entrusted to it by its members 
■and employees — and to a limited extent by non-members. f 
These deposits amounted to £3,925,205, us. 9d. at the end of 

* The number may be regarded as less than a dozen in Scotland. 
t I.e., members of retail societies. 


1918, and were, of course, at the call of the owners either on 
demand or at six months' notice of withdrawal. The rates of 
interest, which are fixed by the members, vary according to the 
category in which the capital is placed by the depositor ; but 
in 1918 the rates paid were : members' share capital, 5 per cent. ; 
employees' share capital, 5 per cent. ; members' deposits, six 
months' notice, 4^ per cent. ; at call, 3 per cent. ; employees' 
deposits, six months' notice, 4I per cent. ; one month, 3I per 
cent. ; deposits from members of retail societies, six months, 
4 per cent. ; one month, 3 per cent. These funds are available 
for the business of the Society ; but, in addition, the Society 
has reserve and insurance funds which amounted to £1,227,273, 
7s. 6^d. Of this sum, £607,093, i6s. id. belonged to the 
reserve fund proper. This fund was inaugurated at the 
commencement of the Society, and, almost from the beginning,! 
it has been a rule that ^d. per £ on the net sales should be 
allocated to this reserve, which must only be used for business 
purposes. When opportunity has arisen, additional sums have 
been added till, as the figures given show, the reserve fund was 
only £13,996, I2S. lod. short of the £621,090, 8s. iid. of share 
capital — a. fact that gives the Co-operative societies additional 
confidence in the Wholesale. The insurance funds of £410,214, 
OS. 6d. are also included in the total reserves. These funds 
have been accruing since 1879, when the first sum was set aside 
chiefly for the insurance of sea-borne goods. The fire insurance 
fund covers a percentage of all the risks to which the Society 
is exposed, and even the whole risk is taken in certain cases. 
Stocks not covered by the Society's policy are insured under 
this fund. The marine insurance fund covers all the risks of 
coastwise freight, and it may cover risks on ships from foreign 
ports up to a limit of £750 for any one vessel. The accident 
and employers' liability funds cover the Society's liability for 
accidents to officials injured while travelling on the Society's 
business or to workers pursuing their ordinary employment. 
The guarantee fund was instituted to cover losses due to any 
defalcations on the part of employees entrusted with the 
handHng of money. The funds are raised by premiums charged 
against each of the departments, and interest on the total fund 
is also added each half-year. The amount of the premiums for 
the last half-year of 1918 was £514, 4s. 6d. 


The balance-sheet* for the half-year which ended in 
December 1918 showed assets to the amount of £6,774,794, 
13s. 8id., which showed a surplus of £1,231,163, 14s. 4|d. over 
the liabilities. That is a healthy state of affairs, but it scarcely 
reflects the full strength of the Society's position, for the Society's 
rules provide for a depreciation of not less than 5 per cent, on 
buildings, 20 per cent, on hve stock, and 10 per cent, on 
fixtures. From the Society's commencement it has expended 
£107,582, OS. 3d. on land ; £1,330,475, 4s. 7d. on buildings ; 
and £821,062, I2s. 4d. on plant, etc. — a total of £2,259,119, 
17s. 2d. This has been depreciated to the extent of 
£1,567,392, los. 6d., and the value of these assets on the books 
•of the Society to-day is only £693,848, 19s. id., or considerably 
less than a third of the value. In this connection it has to be 
remembered that much of the land the Society owns has 
appreciated in value, and that a good deal of the property 
included in this value is comparatively new, and the process 
of "writing off " has not operated long so far as it is concerned. 
The best example of depreciation is provided by the palatial 
central preftiises in Glasgow. These have cost £156,000, but 
they are included in the assets as having a nominal value of 
-only £24,062. The expenses of management, interest on 
capital and deposits, reserve fund, and depreciation are provided 
for before the net profit is declared. From the net profit ij per 
cent, is allocated to the special fund from which donations to 
charitable, social, or other purposes of public of Co-operative 
utUity are voted. The balance is divided in proportion to 
purchases, non-members receiving half the rate of dividend 
allowed to members. 

The financial stabiUty the figures quoted show has proved 
to be a great boon to the people of Scotland who share in the 
-operations of this great concern which does a trade which, 
•growing year by year at an amazing rate, reached £19,216,762, 
i8s. 7d. in the Jubilee year, and which yielded the members 
a return of £481,318, os. 8Jd. of net profit, divided among them 
in proportion to their purchases. During its fifty years the 
Society's sales amounted to £226,561,172, 7s. 6d., on which 
the net profits, allocated as above, were £7,767,552, 2s. 8Jd., 
which went to swell the dividends paid by the retail societies 

* See Appendix IX. 


or, as it happened in many cases, helped to reduce prices 
charged to the members of these societies. The Society which 
made its humble beginning as a productive concern in 1882, 
and which had a productive output of the value of only 
^4,094 in 1883, reckoned its productive output for 1918 at 
^5,180,602, IS. 2d. 

The modest men who pioneered the Wholesale Society 
never conceived, even in their most extravagant dreams, that 
in fifty short years their Society would be selling goods to the 
value of igi millions and producing goods in its own factories 
to the value of over 5 millions a year ; but their creation had 
reached that stage when its Jubilee was celebrated. The 
Society has its creameries and its milk-collecting centres ;* 
its pig-breeding establishments and its sausage factories ; its 
palm-growing land in West Africa and its soap and margarine 
factories ; its grain-growing land (in partnership with the 
C.W.S.) and the largest milling establishments in Scotland, 
the Chancelot mill being the most handsome flour mill in 
Britain, and the Regent miU an historic relic of the Stuart 
days. The Society spins its wool and its jute in its own mills, 
and weaves its own cloth. It startled the War Office by 
accepting an order for thousands of uniforms, and undertaking 
to spin the yam, weave the cloth, and make the suits under 
its own roofs. It made hundreds of thousands of uniforms for 
soldiers of our own and the Allied armies. It has its own 
tannery, where it makes at least part of the leather used in its 
own boot factories. It owns (with the C.W.S.) substantial tea 
«states. It cures its own fish, and may, before long, own its 
own fishing fleet. It builds motor vehicles for its distributive 
trade, and the trade of its shareholders. It has its own box- 
making department, in which it produces its packing-cases, and 
also manufactures cardboard boxes, paper bags, and tinware 
goods ; and its own building department erects its factories 
and its warehouses and its offices. It is prepared to do all 
the banking and insurance and trade of the half million 
Co-operators in Scotland and their famihes. 

It has had some bad debts in its time ; but, to the credit 
of the Co-operators of Scotland, it has to be said that these, 

* These departments are all dealt with separately in the Descriptive 


on a trade of 2264 millions during fifty years, amounted to- 
only £10,677, I2S. 2d., or I'isd. per £100 of sales. That is a 
record of which Co-operators are specially proud. Cash trading 
is the Co-operative ideal ; but there are difficulties in the way 
of adhering to strictly cash terms in a big business like the 
Wholesale's. The S.C.W.S. only grants a maximum credit of 
fourteen days. Accounts outstanding in excess of fourteen 
days are charged interest at the rate of 2| per cent., and in 
cases where the debt exceeds one month's purchases the rate. of 
interest charged is 5 per cent. In order to save themselves 
from this charge, societies may prepay accounts, in which case 
the Wholesale allows interest to the Society at the rate of 
2^ per cent. 

Who are the men who are responsible for the conduct of 
this business ? The shareholders are working-people in the 
retail societies who cannot afford to be exploited, and they 
naturally place this great business of theirs under the control 
of those whom they can trust as directors. These directors 
are twelve working-men Uke themselves who have the 
Co-operative conscience and who have acquired Co-operative 
ideas and experience. Of the twelve directors who piloted the 
Society through the Jubilee year, two were carpenters tiU their 
fellows called them from the bench to the boardroom, two were 
Co-operative store managers, two filled clerical appointments 
with Co-operative societies, one was a miner, one was an 
insurance agent, one was an engineer, one a tool-setter, one a 
mason, and another a moulder. In respect of vocations the 
board of the Jubilee year was typical of the boards that had 
gone before, except that in the earlier years the directors 
attended to their jobs by day and attended to the Wholesale's 
business by night. These directors are elected by the share- 
holding societies for a period of two years, at the end of which 
period they come up for re-election ; but the shareholders who 
call these men from their trades are never disposed to oppose 
them seriously when their period for re-election comes round, 
and since 1905 there has been no candidate pitted against a 
retiring director. The elections are arranged so that only three 
retire at one time, and the continuity of direction and poUcy 
is therefore provided for. The president is elected ad hoc, as 
also is the secretary, and the other members are elected as 


WS'''! J^ ' ^ ^^r\ 11 II. J 







" directors." The only condition essential to render a nomina- 
tion valid is that the person nominated (man or woman) shall 
have been, at the time of nomination, a hona-fide purchasing 
member, for at least five years, in societies enrolled as members 
of the S.C.W.S. Canvassing in any form by, or on behalf of, 
a candidate is a disqualification. The board resolves itself 
into three committees, the president being ex officio a member 
of each. The committees are as follows. The property and 
finance committee consists of four members, two of whom 
act as conveners for property and finance respectively. This 
committee supervises all matters relating to the various 
properties and financial arrangements of the Society. The 
grocery committee consists of four members, two of whom 
are conveners. This committee supervises all grocery distri- 
butive departments, with the allied productive departments. 
The drapery and furnishing committee consists of four members, 
two of whom are conveners. This committee supervises the 
drapery, furniture, and boot departments, with their aUied' 
productive works. The board meets as a general committee 
weekly ; receives reports "from the various conveners, and deals 
authoritatively with any matters which have been receiving 
the attention of the sub-committees during the previous week. 
The directors are responsible to the shareholders for the proper 
conduct and control of all the business of the Society in 
accordance with the rules registered under the Industrial and 
Provident Societies Acts, and the shareholders' delegates who 
appear at the quarterly meetings usually take care that the 
directors answer for anything that requires explanation. 

The membership of the Society is open to all Co-operative 
societies registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies 
Acts, subject to the approval of the quarterly meeting. 
Objection is sometimes taken to the admission of a new society 
member, but on such occasions it is usually due to the rules 
or objects of the society being contrary to Co-operative 
principles as understood by the S.C.W.S. and the Co-operative 
Union, or because the new society represents an undesirable 
secession from another society.* The employees of the 
Wholesale are also entitled to hold shares, but no employee 
shareholder may have less than five or more than fifty shares. 

* See page 208 et seq. 


The rules of the S.C.W.S. provide that the Employees' 
Shareholding Association may send one representative to the 
quarterly meetings for every 150 employees who are share- 
holders. In 1918 the 25,791 employees' shares were held by 
675 employees. The quarterly meeting of the members is the 
supreme authority in the Wholesale Society. To this meeting 
each shareholding society is entitled to send one delegate in 
virtue of membership, so that the amount of capital held yields 
no voting advantage to any society. AU societies have not 
equal voting rights ; but the difference in voting rights is 
determined not by a society's investments but by its purchases. 
The basis of voting has been altered from time to time owing 
to the growth of the attendances at quarterly meetings ; but 
the rules, as altered in 1915, prescribed that, in addition to the 
vote allowed in virtue of membership, each society shall have 
an additional vote for the first £1,500 worth of goods purchased 
and one other additional vote for every complete £3,000 worth 
of goods purchased from the Wholesale thereafter. Proxy 
voting is not allowed. In this way dead capital is prevented 
from dominating the business of the Wholesale ; and the 
societies with the heaviest capital investments acquiesce in this 
arrangement which secures to a shareholding society voting 
power in proportion to its loyalty to the concern. 

The employees at the end of the Jubilee year numbered 
3,081 males and 3,436 females, whose total wages for the year 
amounted to £763,894, 19s. 6d.* 

* For salaries of Directors, see page 234. 



In the Jubilee year view presented in the preceding chapter 
"we saw what the S.C.W.S. was in terms of possessions and trade. 
The reader vnll be justified in reminding us, if he thinks it 
necessary, that ornamental buildings do not butter the bread 
of the men and women on, or below, or a little above the 
poverty Une, and that the extent of a warehouse or the 
excellence of a factory's equipment need not speU an easier 
lot for the workers employed there. We do not need to be 
reminded of either proposition. The promoters of the earliest 
Co-operative venture, as we saw in our references to Fenwick 
in the earlier chapters, were driven to Co-operative methods 
in order to make their earnings go further than they did in 
the privately owned shops. The early productive societies 
sought to sweeten the burden of labour. Rochdale aimed at 
both reforms, and the ideals of Rochdale have been the guiding 
code for the Co-operative movement during the whole period 
covered by the S.C.W.S. If these ideals were pursued by the 
societies which formed the constituent parts of the S.C.W.S., 
we should expect to find them also the governing ideals of the 
S.C.W.S. itself. If the S.C.W.S. has not lightened the lot of 
the worker, or made the earnings of Co-operators go further 
than they would have done otherwise, the S.C.W.S. will have 
failed in its economic mission. If it has not brought a new 


spirit into the industrial and trading and social relations of 
men, it will have failed in its social mission. The men who- 
are responsible for the direction of the affairs of the Wholesale 
are quite ready to be judged by these criteria, and they are 
quite confident as to what the judgment will be. 

We wiU leave the social influence of the S.C.W.S. for the 
present and examine what its economic influence has been. 

The members of the retail societies began to co-operate 
in order that their earnings might be made to go a little 
further. They entrusted those earnings to their societies in 
order that the societies might procure food and other 
necessaries for them. Those societies had to lay out those 
funds in procuring food from merchants tiU it was borne in upon 
them that they, too, might make that money go a little further 
by co-operating as their members had done, and they formed 
the S.C.W.S. The question is : Has their money gone further ?' 
The answer is in the affirmative, and an emphatic affirmative. 
In the very early days of the Co-operative movement, when 
Co-operative societies were small and struggling and were 
composed of men intimately acquainted with one another,, 
there was a very close spirit of loyalty which would have borne 
any sacrifices because they had the sterling faith of the 
pioneers. The men engaged in pioneering any great reform,, 
for the sake of reform, have that faith. The faith of the 
Co-operators of fifty years ago was so strong that they over- 
looked mistakes, even costly mistakes, because they knew they 
were only feeling their way towards success which they believed 
to be ultimately certain. While they were prepared to suffer 
a Httle for their faith they found, nevertheless, that there was- 
an economic advantage in their method even at that 
experimental stage, and it won them fresh associates in growing^ 
numbers. The committee of an early Co-operative society 
knew that they could count upon the " loyalty " of their 
members. When the S.C.W.S. was in its infancy the same 
loyalty was shown towards the Wholesale Society that was- 
only feeUng its way towards success ; but, irrespective of the 
trade brought by loyalty, advantages were secured by societies- 
that they did not get when they were buying, each for itself, 
from wholesale merchants. During its fifty years the Wholesale 
Society has sold goods to the amount of 226J millions. The 


" profits " derived from that trade amounted to yf millions. 
In the capacity of purchasers the societies divided that 
7f millions among them, and in the capacity of shareholders 
they received interest on all the capital they had invested. 
The representation at the shareholders' meetings is adapted to 
meet the dual capacity, for while each society is entitled to 
liave one representative present in virtue of membership, the 
additional delegates (and votes) are fixed in proportion to 
purchases.* The possible rate of dividend is hmited by the 
amount of profit available, but within that limit the actual 
rate is determined by the members, and the rates of interest 
on investments are also determined by the members, acting 
in both cases in the dual capacity of shareholders and 
purchasers. The yf millions of " profits " returned to the 
purchasing societies in proportion to their purchases represents 
an economic saving, for that sum, in the operations of an 
ordinary trading company, would have gone to the shareholders 
at the expense of the purchasers. The interest on the capital 
represents an economic gain to the societies also in more than 
one way. The members of the retaU societies usually deposit 
a small contribution towards capital when they join the society. 
The balance of their capital is almost invariably contributed 
by allowing the dividends on their purchases to accumulate. 
The process of saving is so easy that they allow their dividends 
■ to go on accumulating ; they do not feel any pinch by saving 
in that fashion ; the interest is good and " the bank is safe," 
and so many Co-operators by that means have continued to 
save till they have accumulated £200 — the most the law allows. 
This is used by the society as trading capital so long as 
necessary ; but the estabhshment of the S.C.W.S. gave the 
retail societies an outlet for the surplus they did not require 
for their own business, and they were thus able to invest the 
money of the members to develop this big concern in the interests 
of the members whose money otherwise would have gone into 
ordinary banks to be used very often by other concerns whose 
chief function was to make money out of the people. 

It must not be assumed, as it often is very wrongly, that 
the 7f millions of distributed " profit " is arrived at by the 
Wholesale charging more than other people. It is usually 

* See page 242. 


assumed that it is so because Co-operators say " all profit is an 
overcharge." Co-operative trading is conducted to supply 
known wants, not to make profit. The Co-operative view of 
trade, whether the trade of a Co-operative society or of a 
capitalist company, is that the surplus which remains, after 
meeting the cost of goods, interest on capital, the remuneration, 
of labour (the labour of the director and the labour of the 
charwoman ahke), and aU other expenses, is an overcharge 
which properly and morally belongs to the purchaser. In 
private trade that surplus is " profit " which goes into the 
pockets of the shareholders. The difference constitutes the 
Co-operative case for the non-taxation of Go-operative dividends 
(as distinct from interest, wliich is taxed). If in the early day& 
of the Wholesale it had been necessary, because of the 
inexperience of buyers or any other similar reason, to charge 
more for goods than other merchants, the societies might have 
tolerated it for a time till the Wholesale learned how to sell 
cheaper. The societies would not do that now. They would 
insist upon the directors engaging more competent buyers ; and, 
if that did not happen, they would probably replace the 
directors as their time for re-election came round. It is worthy 
of note, however, that during the years in which the Wholesale 
Society made its biggest advances the stores had to face the 
keenest competition. The multiple shop had come ; it wa& 
wiping out the small trader with a relentlessness that made 
the small trader look more kindly upon the Co-operative store 
than he had ever done. The growth in Co-operative membership 
was very marked. The new members were not all inspired with 
Co-operative ideals — some had no conception whatever of 
Co-operative ideals. Prices were rising, and the people were 
concerned about getting their necessaries at the best prices. 
The stores had to sell as cheaply as competitors or lose trade 
of members and lose prospective new members. Keen selling 
meant keen buying, and the stores had to buy in the best 
market. Under these conditions the trade of the S.C.W.S. rose 
in volume, but the percentage of the Wholesale's trade in 
relation to the retail trade of the societies also rose; in the 
first year of war it jumped 5 per cent, in comparison, and the 
proportion rose from 45-54 per cent, in 1911 to 60-26 per cent, 
in 1916. If it fell in 1917 by "75 per cent, it was because in 


that year Government control of foodstuffs was considerably 
extended, and various food commissions treated the Wholesale 
Society in a fashion that is quite inexpUcable, and which led 
to the developments outhned in Chapter XIII.* In viewing 
these comparisons it must be remembered that there are some 
directions in which the Wholesale does not yet cater for aU the 
wants of its members. A society engaging in the milk trade 
in a district remote from S.C.W.S. centres makes its own 
arrangements with local farmers, and other examples might be 
cited to explain a difference between a society's total purchases 
and its purchases from the Wholesale, although these conditions 
are gradually disappearing. In view of this increase in the 
proportion of trade done it must be conceded that the 
Wholesale's prices have been right, and that the societies have 
foimd a substantial economic gain from trading with the 
S.C.W.S. even beyond the interest on capital and the dividend 
on purchases. This gain went to the members of these 
societies. The member who purchased twenty shillings' worth 
of goods, and received a 2/ dividend, found that under such 
circumstances his twenty shiOings had the purchasing power of 
twenty-two owing to the retail Co-operative system which was 
fed and reinforced by the Wholesale Co-operative system. 

It is of economic value, from a health point of view, that 
supplies of necessaries should be maintained. When the great 
ramp in prices began after the war broke out we read an 
explanation of this in a Sunday paper which showed the 
individuaUstic mind at its worst and laid bare the whole 
purpose of speculative trading. It was explained that there 
-was a shortage of suppHes, and the reason given for the rise 
in prices was that if there is a limited supply below the normal, 
and Wigan and Mayfair (they might have said the Calton and 
PoUokshields if it had been a paper pubUshed in Scotland) both 
want the goods, Wigan must pay what Mayfair is willing to pay, 
and Mayfair will pay almost anything to get the goods. It was 
not set down as a possible reason for the rise in prices ; it was 
stated as an inexorable law making a rise unavoidable. That 
is not the S.C.W.S. law. The S.C.W.S. would know from its 
daily trading experience what the normal requirements of 
Co-operators in Calton and PoUokshields respectively were ; 

* See page 228. 


the price would be fixed in the usual mathematical fashion, and, 
if both districts could not be supplied with all they required, 
each would get an equitable share. The price would not be 
determined by the wiUingness of some to pay more than the fair 
price for a cornered article, and the longer purse of Pollokshields 
would not make it necessary for Calton to tighten its belt. The 
S.C.W.S. during its fifty years has traded equitably. The 
proprietors of the business are the purchasers of the goods, 
but their voting strength, as we have mentioned, is determined 
by their purchases and not by their capital. They are not 
shareholders banded together to seU things to other people 
and purchasing just to help the business ; they are purchasers 
banded together to procure what they want, and they put in 
capital in order to enable their Wholesale buyers to command, 
or to manufacture, suppUes. The Wholesale Society, therefore, 
does not speculate on the market ; it does not manufacture on 
the chance of doing a big stroke of business. It buys or 
produces what the retail societies actually want, and the 
S.C.W.S. is made to know what these societies want. If it be 
argued, as it sometimes is, that there is a stage in the 
development of Co-operation when the extent of the society 
reaches the hmit at which high-scale buying can effect no 
further economies, the Wholessde has not reached that limit 
yet. If it be argued also, as it sometimes is, that a retail 
society — a member of the S.C.W.S. — can grow to such an 
extent that it can buy as well for itself in the open market as 
the S.C.W.S. can buy for it, that stage has not yet been 
reached. Take, for example, the drapery trade, in which the 
great warehouses in Glasgow and Edinburgh and elsewhere 
are so bitterly in competition. St Cuthbert's Co-operative 
Association, the largest Co-operative society in Scotland, with 
a membership equal to a tenth of Scotland's total, takes a 
seventh of the total goods sold by the • S.C.W.S. drapery 
department — and it is quite well known to Co-operators that 
St Cuthbert's dividend is the highest paid by any large society 
in Great Britain. The members of St Cuthbert's know, as the 
members of other societies know, that there is no prospect of 
the S.C.W.S. taking advantage of them either in prices or in 
quality of goods, for the simple reason that they themselves 
are the Wholesale and they do control its operations through 


their elected directors. The shop assistants who sell the goods 
are kept fully up to scratch by the members of the local 
societies who use the goods. If improvement is necessary the 
members promptly tell them ; the shop assistants teU the buyers 
Avho order the stocks ; the buyers lose no time about " taking 
the matter up with the Wholesale " ; and, if representations 
to the S.C.W.S. managers do not avail, the minutes of the 
directors' meetings will probably contain some such item as : 
" Interviewed deputation from a society With reference to 
certain class of goods." A delegate at the quarterly meeting 
will ask : " Mr Chairman, can you give us any information as 
to what society this was and what the goods were ? " If any 
grievance the society had has not been rectified before, the 
directors have a few minutes' paternal advice and the law is 
laid down. There is no doubt whatever about the reality of 
the democratic control of the business of the S.C.W.S. 

In one direction especially the S.C.W.S. has saved the 
consumer. In the sale of prints of fresh butter, the custom 
was to make prints in half-pound and quarter-pound sizes. 
The store member usually asked for "a half-pound print " or 
" a quarter-pound print," and the print supplied could be 
relied upon to weigh fully what was asked for. In recent years 
the practice grew up, in the competitive trade, of making prints 
a little less weight than the customary prints. The small print 
might weigh just over three ounces, and the larger print about 
seven ounces, more or less. It made a difference in the price, 
and the shops that sold these charged less for them than for 
the full-weight prints. To do these traders justice it must be 
stated that they did not sell by weight ; they charged so much 
" per print " ; but people long accustomed to prints of a 
certain weight were easily misled. In one Glasgow society 
members complained that the price of a two-pound pot of jam 
was higher in the store than in another shop in the district. 
A pot was accordingly sent for, and on the gaudily printed 
labels beside the weight there was printed in small letters the 
word " nominal." In this case, too, the prices were marked, 
not in terms of weight, but at so much " per pot " or " per jar " ; 
but in this, too, people accustomed to regulation pots containing 
certain weights were misled, although they had no recourse if 
they found the jar contained less than they thought. In packet 


teas, the custom of selling the packet by weight did grave 
injustice to the consumer. A quarter-pound packet came to- 
mean a packet weighing a quarter of a pound and not a packet 
containing a quarter pound of tea. The S.C.W.S. resolutely- 
eschewed such practices as these. Its fresh butter was in prints- 
of half and quarter pounds, its jams and jelhes were in pots of 
one or two pounds, its tea packets contained the quarter or half 
pound as stated on the label. In conjunction with the C.W.S., 
the S.C.W.S. conducted a vigorous exposure of the tea packet 
scandal. They proclaimed the fact that if they sold by gross 
weight and charged as much per pound for the paper packet 
as for the tea it contained their profits in one year would be 
£200,000 more. The question was raised several times ia 
Parliament. In 1917 Mr M. J. Flavin, one of the Irish members, 
made trouble over the practice and brought out the fact — 
admitted by Captain Bathurst, speaking for the Food 
Controller — that one weU-known firm sold tea in 4-oz. packets 
and that the weight of the wrapper was J oz. approximately, 
but that the packet bore the announcement that its weight, 
" inclusive of the wrapper," was 4 oz. He does not seem t& 
have answered Mr Flavin's further question as to whether he 
was aware that " paper is over 600 per cent, cheaper than tea."' 
Mr Flavin, aided by Mr Will Thorne, returned to the point 
several times tiU, eventually. Captain Bathurst announced that 
on and after ist May 1917 it would be illegal to pack teas- 
unless each package of two ounces and upwards contained the 
net weight of tea mentioned on the package, and that, after 
a later date (fixed to allow shopkeepers to clear stocks already 
packed), it would be illegal to sell tea in packages unless under 
similar conditions. Steps have since been taken to make these 
regulations permanent even if the Food Ministry should be 
allowed to lapse ; but people must not forget that the S.C.W.S. 
and its sister federation are responsible for fair trade being" 
made compulsory in respect of such packed goods. In tea, as- 
in soap, the Wholesale Societies were instrumental in exposing 
the system of giving presents with tea, or giving coupons 
entitUng the purchaser to " gifts." The most shameful example 
of the alleged " present " system was the pension tea scheme. 
Under this scheme purchasers were to be entitled to pensions 
when they became widows ; and the device proved so profitable 


that the first claims were met, a fact which gave colour to the 
scheme. It became impossible to meet the claims, and the 
sequel was heard in 1905 in the law courts, where the hollowness 
of the system was described by Mr Justice Buckley, who passed 
strictures on the delusive and reckless promise of impossible 
pensions. The story reached its close in 1909 when each widow 
entitled to a pension of 10/ per week for Ufe got a lump sum of 
32/. The exposure of the system, like the cessation of the 
soap prize system, brought Co-operative purchasers to greater 
faith in Co-operative methods. 

The control exercised over the distributive departments by 
the people who buy the goods is also exercised over the 
productive departments of the S.C.W.S. It is a tribute to the 
value of these productions that in the Jubilee year the S.C.W.S. 
produced 3T42 per cent, of the goods it sold, despite the 
difficulty of procuring materials in a number of industries. 
In the year before the war, when the Wholesale productions 
were less all round in proportion to Wholesale trade, the 
cabinet factory produced 77 per cent, of the furniture sold by 
the S.C.W.S. In the same year the Society manufactured 
90 per cent, of the Scotch tweed it sold. Excluding some 
classes of shoes and slippers not made in the kingdom but in 
fair demand, and a very cheap class of inferior boot the 
production of which ought not to be encouraged and which 
the S.C.W.S. would spoil its reputation by manufacturing, the 
output of boots and shoes from the S.C.W.S. factories 
represented 80 per cent, of the total possible.* There are large 
societies in the most keenly competitive trading areas — some 
of the largest and most prosperous societies in Scotland — ^which 
seU only S.C.W.S. tobacco, S.C.W.S. soap, and S.C.W.S. flour 
and meal, while others similarly Umit their stocks to other 
S.C.W.S. productions. These productions are not made to any 
hard and fast uniformity — except uniformity of quality and 
workmanship. In the boot trade, for example, the S.C.W.S. 
has to cater for a large variety of tastes and for a large variety 
of feet, but it is questionable if there is another factory in the 
country which produces such a variety of styles and sizes. 
The " size " of the boot required by a purchaser is measured 
in the boot shop by the rule with a sliding gauge which fixes; 
* statistics from a paper by Mr A. S. Huggan, S.C.W.S. Ltd. 


the " size " by the length of the foot, but it would seem as 
if the S.C.W.S. worked out designs for almost every possible 
variation of each size. The same variety is found in the 
readymade clothing departments, including shirts. The 
economic value contained in goods that give comfort and 
pleasure, and goods that last, is very considerable, and the 
evidence that this economic value is there is provided by the 
growth of the S.C.W.S. productive trade. . In the productive 
trade, as well as in the wholesale trade pure and simple, the 
prices are an important factor, and we have the tribute of 
the managers of the retail stores who generally acknowledge 
that the Wholesale serves them better than others would. It 
is contended by opponents of Co-operation that the retail 
managers automatically give their orders to the Wholesale, 
relying upon the fact that the business belongs to the society ; 
and that the relations between the Wholesale and retail 
societies lead to indifference on the part of the managers of 
the retail societies, who are freed from the necessity of watching 
the markets. An hour spent in the S.C.W.S. salerooms on the 
mornings when the retail buyers attend, and presence at the 
conversations which these gentlemen have with the Wholesale 
salesmen, would dispel such an illusion. The managers and 
buyers of retail societies are as conscientious and as alert as 
the gentlemen who occupy similar positions under the 
competitive system. " As iron sharpeneth iron " their alertness 
keeps the S.C.W.S. buyers and managers alert ; and if, as some 
anti-Co-operators in trading circles appear to think, the buyers 
and managers of both Wholesale and retail societies engage in 
some unholy alliance to fleece unsuspecting victims who become 
members of Co-operative stores, they would soon experience 
the burning heat of " the great white light that beats upon the 
throne " of the Co-operative official when the grand high court 
of the quarterly meeting took place. Apart from all of which, 
the goods sold by the S.C.W.S. to the stores, and by the stores 
to the members, and the prices at which those goods are sold, 
are subjected daily to the searching scrutiny of the ubiquitous 
lady with the basket whose pronouncements as to relative 
values are well-nigh infallible. 

The S.C.W.S. has set out to provide everything the societies 
in Scotland require for their members in order that these 


members may be free of the shackles put upon consumers from 
the pre-Fenwick days. A constant menace which hangs over 
the heads of the people is the menace of the capitalist combine, 
or trust. If merchants refused to supply Co-operative societies 
in the initial stages of Co-operative development it would have 
been an obstacle in the way of the burjjjened consumer. Some 
societies had that experience, but they found others ready to. 
take orders. After the Ironworks Company collapsed the 
S.C.W.S. had orders refused by people who formerly canvassed 
for them. What happened then has already been told,* but 
the experience was a warning to the Wholesale, and its chief 
concern since has been to make the consumers independent of 
anybody but themselves for the essentials of life, and the most 
serious menace has been the growing power of the trusts. 
Several rounds of the fight with the trusts have already been 
fought. In another chapterf we have shown how the great 
combination of people in the meat trade attempted to close- 
up the Co-operative fleshing departments, and we have shown 
there how the excellent organisation and enterprise of the 
S.C.W.S. prevented that happening and rendered the Fleshers' 
Association powerless. When the big soap firms sought to lay 
down the law as to the price at which soap must be sold in the 
Co-operative stores, the Wholesale closed its account with these 
firms, and subsequently inaugurated its own soap factory whose 
productive output has kept on growing despite the attractive 
lists of prizes for soap coupons that were so extensively 
advertised for years. In 1906, when the big Soap Trust was 
formed. Co-operators who had not been too zealous about 
Grangemouth soap works till then, or who had been, very 
probably, deluded by the " prize coupon," realised at once 
that control of the soap trade by the trust would ultimately 
mean control of prices. Many societies decided to give up any 
trading connection they had with the firms in the trust. The 
soap works have progressed ever since, and the products are 
sold at prices lower than the firms in the trust would sell the 
same qualities to the societies. Margarine had almost fallen 
under syndicate control, but the Wholesale Society entered 
into the production on an extensive scale, and the progress of 
the trade is fully outlined in the descriptive article in subsequent 
* See'page 99. t See pages 156, 157; see also pages 199-202. 


pages. The Proprietary Articles Traders' Association attempted 
to dictate to the Co-operative movement, as it does to others 
who sell their goods, what the prices must be ; but the Wholesale 
disregarded the threat of boycott, and there are few articles 
sold by the members of that association which have not their 
equivalent in Wholesale productions of equal merit and often 
of better value — ^thanks to the resources of the Shieldhall 
chemical department. Thanks to the inteUigent activities of the 
S.C.W.S. advertising department, these articles find ready sale 
among the members of the societies. The danger of trusts 
■cornering the supphes of raw materials led to a number of 
developments in the Wholesale business. One of the best 
examples to be cited is the West African enterprise,* and the 
■effect is also noteworthy. The English Wholesale Society had 
■established itself in Sierra Leone and on the Gold Coast in 1914, 
and the Scottish Wholesale had also estabUshed itself on the 
vGold Coast in the same year, the purpose of both being to obtain 
native products, particularly raw materials for factories, such 
as palm kernels. The effect of the combines and of the 
■Co-operative Wholesale Societies respectively was disclosed in 
a debate in the House of Commons in the second week of 
November 1916, when there was some trouble over the proposed 
sale of some enemy property that had been seized. It was 
.usual that palm kernels intended for Europe were sent to 
Hamburg to be crushed, and Germany, consequently, was very 
largely interested in the trade. The properties seized by the 
Government were located in Nigeria. The Unionist M.P. for 
.the Exchange Division of Liverpool proposed that it should 
be ruled that the properties would only be sold to natural-born 
British subjects or to companies whoUy British, his avowed 
object being to secure that they would not pass into the hands 
of neutrals who might, later, pass them on to Germans. (But 
why not allow AUies to buy ?) This proposition does not 
concern us here except for the fact that it brought out the 
discussion which followed. It seemed a simple proposition 
which one would have expected Parhament to agree to, in view 
of the determination of the Paris Conference to proclaim a trade 
Tvar after the war. The first Coalition was in power and 
Mr Asquith was the Prime Minister, and the Government 
* See " Overseas Enterprises " in Descriptive Section. 


opposed this proposition — an opposition which eventually was 
supported by the House. The facts brought out in the 
discussion were these. The trade of Nigeria was being 
•controlled by a capitalist combine which exercised a sinister 
influence on the trade. Supporters of the Government were 
•convinced that the pressure that was being brought to bear 
upon the Government to exclude neutrals from bidding for 
these properties was not prompted by any patriotic fervour 
but by the purely materiahstic desire to allow the capitahst 
•combine to secure the properties at a lower price than would 
be likely to be required if the sale were open. The debate 
showed, of course, how simple Co-operators were who deluded 
themselves into the beUef that they had no interest in being 
represented in ParUament, for it was made tolerably clear that 
the aim was to secure trade monopolies or concessions which 
-were as good as monopolies. Mr Steel Maitland, M.P., the 
Under-Secretary for the Colonies, let a flood of Hght in upon 
the whole trade. He stated that before the war there was a 
difference of £4 or £5 per ton between the price paid to the 
native producer for the palm kernels and the price paid on 
the Liverpool market. After the combine entered the market 
the difference grew till in November 1916 it was £14, and the 
difference in freight rates would account for only one-fifth of 
the increase. Then, he explained further, while the price to 
the purchaser had gone up, the price paid to the actual 
producer had been lowered from £14 to £9 or £10. Anticipating 
that some of his Parhamentary associates might ask where the 
<iifference went to, Mr Steel Maitland suppUed the information. 
One of the firms in the combine had an annual profit which, 
averaging the three years before the war, amounted to 
£83,000 — the last year before the war being £80,000, an obvious 
fall. In 1915, however, that firm's profits went up to £149,000. 
Another of the firms had £57,000 of profit per year before the 
war and secured £95,000 in 1915 — exclusive of undisclosed 
reserves to cover excess profits duty. Naturally these people 
would not welcome neutral competitors who might" undersell 
them and break the combine. These figures brought the history 
of the case up till November 1916 — ^more than two years after 
the S.C.W.S. estabhshed itself on the Gold Coast. The S.C.W.S. 
had no interest in making profits out of the sale of its palm 


kernels. These products were required for its own works, to 
supply its own members ; if profits resulted they would be 
divided among the purchasers. So the purchasers were free 
from exploitation in respect of these West African products- 
There only remained the native producers to be considered. 
Mr Steel Maitland told the House that there was no combine 
on the Gold Coast (where the S.C.W.S. was estabUshed), but 
he added that the natives there were getting £3 per ton more 
for their products and their labour than the Niger Company 
paid its natives, and that in Sierra Leone (where the C.W.S. 
was estabhshed) the native was getting from £3 to £5 more 
than was paid to the natives in the area dominated by the 
combine. The users of palm kernel products from the area 
under S.C.W.S. influence were beiiig protected from exploitation, 
and the natives were being better remunerated for their labour. 
No doubt the capitalist exporter will regard tenderness towardsv 
the native as weakness and bad business, but it was simply 
applj^ng to the native the same consideration as the S.C.W.S. 
extends to the coolies on the Indian and Cingalese tea estates 
and to the highly organised trade unionists at Shieldhall and 
elsewhere. When it is claimed, therefore, that the S.C.W.S. 
is the Scottish people's bulwark against the trusts, the claim 
is fairly well founded. The sequel to the West African debate 
may as well be told. The following year saw a linking-up of 
some of the interests of the two Wholesale Societies in West 
Africa and saw the drafting of an agreement relating to all the 
overseas enterprises of the two federations. It witnessed the 
extension of the C.W.S. possessions at Accra, on the Gold Coast, 
for the use of both ; and, most significant of aU, it witnessed 
the establishment of a joint E. & S. C.W.S. depot for the 
collection of native produce at Lagos, in Nigeria, where the 
combine so described by Mr Steel Maitland - had ruled. 
Neither the native producer nor the home consumer should 
have reason to regret that step. 

Just as the S.C.W.S. is engaged in a laudable endeavour tO' 
secure the sources and means of supply of aU the commodities, 
its society members require for the use of Co-operators and 
their famiUes, it is also part of its policy to make Co-operators 
and Co-operation independent of banking concerns. The war 
gave the banks a great shock, and but for the Government 









stepping in to pledge them the security of the nation's resources 
there is no saying what the effect oi the war might have been 
upon the whole of our banking system. The banldng system 
is subject to the same criticism as the trading system as we 
know it outside Co-operation — it is not conducted as a 
national service, but as a profit-making enterprise for the 
benefit of shareholders. One of the most disturbing movements 
of recent 3'ears has been the gradual consohdation of banking 
interests into rival amalgamations which take the place of 
smaller rival banking concerns. The English C.W.S. conducts 
a full-fledged banking business ; but the S. C.W.S. has not 
gone so far yet, and it has been explained that the difference 
in the law relating to banking in the two countries is one 
reason why that is so. If it does not do banking in the ordinary 
sense, however, it does banking in effect, and most of the retail 
societies in affihation with the S. C.W.S. do the same in a local 
sense. The retail societies at the end of 1918 held money 
deposited by their members to the extent of 10 miUions. The 
S.C.W.S. had capital to the amount of 5f milHons. A consider- 
able .sum is held on hand by each of the societies — ^retail and 
Wholesale — and, while the members may not write cheques on 
their Co-operative society as the member of an English society 
may write a cheque on the C.W.S. bank, members may withdraw 
deposits at almost any time. The retail societies advance 
money to members to enable them to purchase their own houses 
(within certain limits fixed by their own rules, and on ample 
security). They use some of the money to invest in shares ir^ 
and loans to other Co-operative federations (the United 
Co-operative Baking Society, the Paisley Co-operative 
Manufacturing Society, etc.). Some invest in certain other 
concerns,* but the bulk of the balance not required for the 
society's own business is deposited with the S.C.W.S. These 
deposits, and increased shares, enabled the S.C.W.S. to found 
the Shieldhall enterprise and others. The societies are 
constantly pressing the S.C.W.S. to undertake banking in the 
fullest sense as a business proposition. The chief reason for 
this is because it seems desirable that there should be no more 
limitation on the Wholesale's trade in money than on its trade 

* The Scottish Co-operative Laundry Association had to invest in 
British Dyes Ltd. before it could obtain supplies, 



in other commodities for the exchange of which money is the 
instrument. The same obstacles are put in the way of 
Co-operative trade in money as are put in the way of 
Co-operative trade in other articles. If evidence of this is 
required it, is already furnished by the fact that the growth 
of the funds at the disposal of the Co-operative societies had 
so affected other interests that they used their power in 
Parliament to prevent the Industrial and Provident Societies 
Act being amended in 1913 to increase a member's possible 
holding in a society from £200 to £300. Apparently financial 
interests are taking steps to prevent their domain being invaded, 
as the domain of other trades has been invaded, by Co-operation. 
When the subject of banking was last pressed upon the 
directors, in 1916, it was reported by the directors that the 
Society was, to all intents and purposes, doing banking. The 
Society, they said, was transacting banking business (i) in the 
way of receiving money, and (2) in the lending of the money 
so received. It was pointed out, under the first head, that the 
societies had an opportunity of passing on any of their surplus 
capital to the Wholesale, that on no occasion had any money 
been refused as deposits, and that the only restriction was on 
the amoimt of the share capital — shares, practically, being 
granted only to the number of the societies' individual members. 
Besides, the Wholesale received deposits from employees and 
members of retail societies. It was admitted that it was open 
to consideration whether an extension of the facilities for 
receiving money from members of retail societies would be an 
advantage to the movement. The second branch of banking 
business — the lending of the surplus invested — ^had developed 
on two lines. In the first place, money was advanced to 
societies on the security of their property. This was done 
under a resolution of the quarterly meeting, and the rates of 
interest on these advances were fixed by agreement. At 
December 1918 the amoimt so advanced stood at X45,43i. 
In the second place, money was advanced to corporations and 
public bodies on short notice and on the security of the public 
rates. Including the War Loan, the amount so advanced and 
outstanding at December 1918 was £1,678,812.* The directors 
admitted that the fimdamental business of the Wholesale was 
* A good number of Societies invested in War Loan direct. 


to do trade with and manufacture for its members, but it was 
also found necessary that large sums should be kept free to 
meet the obligations incurred. When this report was submitted 
the Greenock Society was moving for a special committee to 
consider the whole question of banking ; but the committee 
was not appointed, in view of the fact that the subject was 
being considered jointly by the boards of the two Wholesale 
Societies. We have mentioned in an earlier chapter the steps 
entered upon to effect a closer relationship between the two 
federations. A post-war programme of industrial and trade 
development has been planned by the two Wholesales, jointly 
and severally, which wUl involve considerable capital 
expenditure ; but the question of banking is certain to be 
raised again in Scotland, in view of the greater convenience 
a Co-operative bank will be to the members, but also because 
it •will afford a ready means of providing capital for development 
purposes. The credit of the S.C.W.S. would secure considerable 
sums of money from depositors who, at present, may only 
deposit money in the S.C.W.S. with the consent of the retail 
societies of which they are m.embers. Even in the incomplete 
form in which the S.C.W.S. does banking business to-day it 
has an economic value, because it enables societies to find 
money readily when occasion arises. It has an economic value, 
not merely to the Co-operators, but to the public, for it has 
stood between the public and the profiteer. One example may 
suffice. Some years ago the Corporation of Glasgow wanted 
a considerable sum of money on loan. The banks, apparently 
acting in co-operation owing to advance knowledge of the 
Corporation's requirements, demanded a high rate of interest. 
The city treasurer, seeing through the scheme, applied to the 
S.C.W.S. for the money. The S.C.W.S. was able to furnish the 
money required, the bankers' ring was broken on that occasion, 
and the Glasgow ratepayers were saved. It was an act which, 
however Co-operators applaud it, would not commend itself to 
a profiteering concern. 

A chapter dealing with the economic influence of the 
Wholesale would not be complete without special reference 
to the relationship between the S.C.W.S. and its employees. 
When the Jubilee was reached the employees numbered about 
9,000, but when the Jubilee was actually celebrated the total 


was 10,157, and the wages bill for 1918 amounted to £862,937. 
That little army of employees would have been greater had 
the war not intervened to hinder natural developments. The 
S.C.W.S. is one of the few concerns which does not throw its 
old workers on the scrap-heap. We have already mentioned 
the celebration of the ninetieth birthday of one of the 
employees* while he was still in the service — an event probably 
unique in business circles in Scotland. The presentation to 
James Leggat on that occasion was made by Mr George 
Davidson, who had entered the service of the drapery 
department in 1874. Even Mr Davidson, who is still doing 
duty, and doing it well, is not the oldest employee of the 
Wholesale, either in age or in service. Leaving age out of 
account, for S.C.W.S. employees never seem to grow old 
however old they may look, Mr David Gardiner, the chief of 
the drapery department, has longer service, for he joined the 
S.C.W.S. staff in 1873. Mr Ebenezer Ross, reputed to be one 
of the keenest buyers in the grocery trade, took up his duty 
with the S.C.W.S. in 1872. Mr Robert Macintosh, now the chief 
of the counting-house staff and officially designated " the 
accountant," joined the staff, such as it was, in April 1870. 
These are the oldest veterans of the service, but they are not 
the only veterans. In the grocery department alone there are 
a score of employees with over thirty years' service each. 
These details indicate that employment in the S.C.W.S. has 
been at least tolerable. If no more than that could be said, 
the members of the Wholesale would be disappointed and the 
directors woiild not have been able to claim that they had 
interpreted the will of the Co-operative community. 

The promoters of the Wholesale Society were undoubtedly 
actuated by a desire that this institution, the embodiment of 
Co-operative ideals and Co-operative business methods, should 
be a model employer. As we have pointed out, the chief aim 
of Co-operators had been to improve the economic condition 
of the consumer and to improve the position of the producer. 
Consumers were clamouring for a reduction of the cost of 
hving ; producers were crying out that they produced wealth 
and their employers collected it. The Wholesale determined 
that it would ease the burden for the people in both directions, 

* See page 117. 


and a fair reward for labour was held to be a first charge upon 
the business. If the world had been run on Co-operative lines 
the S.C.W.S. would have had no difficulty, but the world was 
built differently. The Co-operative stores were surrounded by 
competitors. The S.C.W.S. itself was surrounded by 
competitors. The chief purpose of the S.C.W.S. was to let 
the stores have goods of the best quality that could be sold 
at prices that would enable the stores to reduce the cost of 
living for their members. It was impossible, therefore, to go 
far ahead of competitors in the matter of expense. The 
Wholesale, therefore, paid the best wages compatible with the 
competitive conditions in which it existed, and its profits were 
returned to the purchasers. In 1870, before the Society had 
been two years in existence, it decided that the employees 
must also share in the profits, and it was arranged that a bonus 
on wages should be paid at double the rate per £ that was paid 
in dividend on purchases to the members. That arrangement 
endured till after the productive departments were inaugurated. 
In October 1885 the conditions of the bonus were changed. 
The employees in the distributive departments were paid bonus 
at the same rate per £ of wages as the members received on 
each £ of purchases, but the bonus to the employees in the 
productive departments depended entirely on the profits made 
in the productive departments. That arrangement lasted till 
1892, when it was decided that the bonus on wages, throughout 
the whole service, would be at the same rate per £ as the 

Another change was made at that time. TUl then the bonus 
was paid over in cash, but in 1893 it was agreed that half the 
bonus should be so paid and that the other half should be retained 
by the Society and credited to the employee. This retained 
sum was only withdrawable on the employee's leaving the 
service. The directors had power, under the rules regulating 
the bonus, to deprive an employee of bonus at any time 
if dismissed for any irregularity. That power was derived from 
the fact that the bonus was an income apart from wages. 
The wages were fixed always on the trade union scale. There 
is no case on record of any wages being paid below the trade 
union standard, and trade union conditions, at least, were 
always recognised. There was no regulation requiring 


employees to be members of their trade unions, and this fact 
was emphasised time after time by Mr Maxwell while he 
occupied the chair. The attitude of the board then was that 
it was the business of the trade unions to organise the workers 
and not the business of the S.C.W.S. directors and managers. 
No obstacle was ever put in the way of trade union organisation, 
and the fullest opportunity was given to trade union officials 
to address the employees and to canvass for members. So far 
as we can gather, the directors shared the view of the trade 
union leaders that it was unfair for workers who enjoyed the 
good conditions that prevailed in the S.C.W.S. service to hold 
themselves aloof from the unions which were in many cases 
engaged in bringing conditions and wages in other estabUshments 
up to the Wholesale's standard. At the same time, the 
directors took the view— it was expressed by both Mr Maxwell 
and Mr Stewart from the chair on several occasions — that it 
was not right to resort to compulsion ; and no effort was even 
made to press the employees to be Co-operators, one reason 
being that the Co-operators themselves would have been the 
first to resent any effort on the part of their employers to make 
them become supporters of the private trading system. 
A good many girls and women were employed by the Society ; 
these workers, for the most part, looked forward to entering 
the matrimonial lists, and to them the need for trade 
unionism — especially in view of the conditions in the Wholesale 
— ^was not apparent. They were being paid better than 
similar classes of workers outside, and their working day was 
shorter ; but in their case, as in the case of the trade unionists 
in the employment of the concern — ^whose standard formed the 
minimum rates paid — ^the wages were fixed without consideration 
for the bonus, which was an extra payment which alone raised 
the trade unionists to a httle higher level than those employed 
outside. The retention of part of the bonus was intended to 
quicken the interest of the employees in the business. It had 
been proposed by the directors that the whole bonus should 
be retained, but the employees themselves expressed a desire 
that half should be paid in cash as formerly, and this wish was 
acceded to. The retained portion was regarded as loan capital 
and was paid interest at the same rate as twelve months' loans. 
This, however, did not appear to give the employees the direct 


interest in the concern that was thought to be desirable in a 
Co-operative concern, and so, in 1893, the scheme of employees' 
shareholding was inaugurated. 

Under this scheme, which still obtains, any employee over 
twenty-one years of age may become a shareholder in the 
Society, the shares bearing interest at 5 per cent, per annum. 
An employee who wishes to become a shareholder must apply 
for not less than five 20/ shares. These shares may be paid 
up in the same way as that adopted by societies — namely, 
1/ per share on application, the remainder of the value being 
made up of accumulated bonus and interest ; but any member 
may pay up shares in full or in part at any time. Fifty is the 
maximum number of shares allowed to each employee. The 
employee shareholders are entitled to nominate and send one 
delegate to general meetings for every 150 shareholders. 
Employees on leaving the employment of the Society must 
place their shares on the transfer list, as no one outside the 
Society's emplo5mient is allowed to hold any of its shares. 
The Employees' Shareholding Association, set up in accordance 
with this scheme in 1893, celebrated its sUver jubilee in 1918 
at a very enjoyable little social gathering held in the S.C.W.S. 
Dining Rooms, Morrison Street, Glasgow, when a presentation 
was made to Mr Macintosh, who had been president of the 
association since its inception, and a presentation was also 
made to Mrs Macintosh. The members meet shortly before 
the quarterly meetings of the Wholesale to discuss the agenda 
issued for these meetings and to elect and instruct their 
delegates. When the Shareholding Association celebrated its 
silver jubilee there were about 8,000 employees in the service ; 
but of these 665 were shareholders, their invested shares 
amounting to 25,000. About 2,000 of the employees, or more, 
were under twenty-one years of age and were not eligible for 
membership ; but that still left about 90 per cent, of the 
eligible employees who did not hold shares. 

The whole idea underlying the granting of bonus and the 
formation of the Employees' Shareholding Association was to 
harmonise the interests of capital, the consumer, and the 
worker. In bringing about the scheme the directors believed 
they were doing this. Mr Maxwell was the leading spirit in 
promoting the scheme, and he was warmly supported by the 


directors on the whole, although there was one notable 
exception. Some of the employees were not in favour of the 
scheme at all, and till the end of the bonus system in the 
Wholesale there were opponents to it among the employees. 
It is interesting now to recall that the late Mr James Keyden, 
then the Society's sohcitor, drafted the regulations, and that 
the rule instituting the employees' shareholding scheme was 
proposed at the quarterly meeting by Mr James Deans and 
seconded by the late Mr John M'Nair. Mr Deans carried his 
enthusiasm a httle further than the Wholesale scheme, and in 
1895 the Scottish Section of the Co-operative Union drafted a 
report highly favourable to the payment of bonus in Co-operative 
societies in general recognition of the principle of profit-sharing. 
The question formed the subject of keen controversy. The 
notable exception on the Wholesale board, Mr T. C. M'Nab, 
read a paper which was freely discussed at conferences, in 
which he upheld the proposition that " Co-operative profit, 
being a surcharge on the consumer — made for a definite 
purpose, viz., the creation of capital — it can only in justice 
return to the consumer from whence it came ; to the 
Co-operative employee, if he is a Co-operative consumer, as he 
ought to be, in the same proportion as to aU others." He 
found a ready and an eloquent antagonist in his colleague on 
the board, Mr Henry Murphy, who contended that Co-operation 
would have failed if the worker's reward was only the wage 
resulting from war between the employer and the employee, 
and that Co-operative service should hold out some attraction 
to the workers that competitive trading and industry did not. 
The discussion died down, to be revived again ten years later, 
when Mr Hugh Campbell (now a director) propagated ideas 
much hke Mr M'Nab's, and Mr Murphy again stepped into the 
breach, backed soUdly by Mr M. H. Cadiz of Kinning Park. 
Nevertheless, the federation still held to the principle of bonus 
on wages. The question of a superannuation proposal for 
directors had been submitted, as our historical record shows, 
following a paper by Mr James Campsie at the Scottish 
National Co-operative Conference in 1906 ; but this was rejected. 
A special committee had reported favourably, but that did not 
save it. One objection to it was that it did not embrace the 
employees as well as the directors. Some beUeved that the 


bonus problem and the superannuation problem might be 
solved together, and, after several efforts to create public 
opinion on the subject, another special committee was set up 
by the Wholesale Society which, in 1914, submitted a 
contributory scheme of superannuation embracing directors 
and employees alike ; the bonus to be eliminated in the 
process. This scheme was rejected ; but in December 1914 
the late Mr J. M. WilMe, then a member of the Scottish 
Sectional Board, proposed, on behalf of the Greenock Central 
Society, that the rules should be altered so that bonus should 
be aboUshed. It was a memorable meeting. There is evidence 
that a number of the employees were hotly opposed to the 
superannuation scheme rejected earUer in the year — some 
because it was a contributory scheme, and some because they 
feared that any pension scheme tended to tie the hands of 
employees in any service where such schemes applied because 
the prospect of loss of pension was an ever-present menace to 
hberty. Mr WUkie, in proposing the aboUtion of the bonus, 
based his proposal partly on what he conceived to be the mind 
of the employees themselves, and he very ingeniously pointed 
out that the Progress Co-operative Society, formed by the 
S.C.W.S. employees themselves,* did not pay bonus to its own 
staff. He repeated Mr M'Nab's contention that dividend was 
^' a surcharge on the consumer " and that it should go back 
to the consumer, and he denied the assumption that the bonus 
stimulated the worker. In support of this last contention he 
referred to a recent dispute there had been between the 
S.C.W.S. and the Boot Operatives' Union, in which it 
appeared that, although the workers were being paid 6/ a 
week more than bootmakers on the same machines elsewhere, 
the S.C.W.S. was not to be allowed to get the same output 
from its machines as other people were allowed to get. 
Against Mr Wilkie's arguments it was submitted by Mr Low 
of Kinning Park that the bonus paid by the S.C.W.S. was not 
in the same category as bonus paid by other firms, the latter 
being paid as a reward for " speeding up." Mr Andrew Purdie 
(now a director) took up the same attitude, and he pointed to 
the fact that, although there had just been a bad time of 
industrial unrest and labour trouble, the S.C.W.S. had 

* See concluding chapter. 


occupied a splendid position because of the conditions it gave 
its workers. An eloquent plea for the recognition of profit- 
sharing was added to the discussion by Mr D. H. Gerrard of 
the Baking Society ; but the vote determined that the bonus 
system should end, and the system recognised since 1870 was 
terminated by 498 votes to 211. Those who voted in the 
majority were not actuated by any desire to save money, 
except in a very few instances where it was feared that bonus 
created a privileged class. Beneath the argument was the 
view that the employees ought to be paid what their unions 
decided was a fair wage for their labour, and that the economic 
advantage shoidd go to the consumers (including the employees) 
in reduced prices or in dividend. The fact dawned upon the 
movers of the proposal for the rejection of the bonus that they 
had reduced the income of the employees, but at the next 
meeting this was rectified, and all employees who received 
bonus were subsequently allotted an " equivalent," which 
meant that each half-year they received a gift of 8d. per £ 
on their half-year's wages. It was much the same as the 
bonus ; but there was this difference — viz., that new employees 
did not receive it ; and the annual outlay in this respect 
became a diminishing quantity which in 1918 amounted to 
£19,796. Although it was decided to abolish the bonus in 
December 1914, the change could not take place till the new 
rule was registered, and this did not take place till February 
1915. From 1870 tin that date £265,690 was paid in bonus 
on wages. The abolition of the bonus meant that the bonus 
fund accumulated to the credit of the employees had to be 
placed at the disposal of the employees, but a large number 
of the employees simply transferred it to the deposit account. 
Nor did the abolition of the bonus interfere with the employees' 
shareholding system, for the rule still stands which enables any 
employee over twenty-one years of age to hold shares in any 
number above five and below fifty. 

It is true that there have been labour disputes even in the 
S.C.W.S., but the Society on Ihe whole has been comparatively 
free of these. New machinery capable of increasing the output 
is a frequent cause of dispute. In the competitive trade such 
machinery and the consequent displacement of labour means 
more profit for the owner of the business. In the Co-operative 


service the benefits go to the consumer, and the generaUty of 
the employees are members (or sons or daughters of members) 
of the societies which own the machinery and, therefore, they 
share in the benefit. This is not always apparent to the 
employees, of course. The S.C.W.S., however, has time after 
time been used as the pace-maker by trade unions. It does 
aim at keeping a little ahead of the capitalist employer, but 
in a world of competition it cannot go very far ahead of its 
competitors without jeopardising its trade. When trade union 
demands are made upon employers, the attitude of the 
Wholesale directors usually expresses itself in an indication of 
willingness to pay the demand if others pay it ; and very often 
the works go on on the understanding that the S.C.W.S. pays 
whatever advance is ultimately agreed upon by the other 
employers. The trade unions know, quite well, that the 
Wholesale is controlled in the last resort by the delegates at 
the quarterly meetings, who are themselves trade unionists for 
the most part ; but it happens that the unions are not disposed 
to grant privileges. If a union demands a forty-eight hour 
week instead of fifty in the trade, and the S.C.W.S. department 
concerned is working a forty-eight hour week, the union 
expects the Wholesale to give the two hours' reduction like 
the others ; and analogous cases have arisen during the war 
with regard to wages. The Wholesale was one of the first 
employers to begin the war bonus arrangement in view of the 
increase in the cost of living ; but fresh wages claims made 
upon it did not always give credit for this war bonus, and 
arbitration had sometimes to be resorted to. Apart from the 
wages question, however, even the most aggressive of trade 
unions will readily concede that the S.C.W.S. is a more 
sympathetic employer than the bulk of employers, and that 
there is in the service, whether in office or warehouse or factory, 
an atmosphere which secures plenty of workers for all its 
departments — except, perhaps, when a new industry is set 
down in a town where experienced workers are not readily 
obtained and where young people have to be trained. Even 
the most harassed workers in the sweated, unorganised trades 
owe something to the S.C.W.S. for having helped them out 
by the force of example.* In 1912, the representatives of the 

* See page 119. 


workers on the Readymade and Wholesale Bespoke Tailoring 
Trade Board passed a resolution expressing their appreciation 
of the enUghtened poUcy of the S.C.W.S. in regard to the fixing 
of the minimum rates for the wholesale tailoring trade, and 
offering their thanks to the Society and to Mr David Gardiner 
(its representative on the Scottish District Committee) for 
valuable support in their effort to secure fair rates of payment 
for workers in the trade. That is only one of the bouquets 
the workers have handed to the Wholesale. 








Times of national crisis have proved the economic value of 
the S.CW.S. to its own constituents. At the time of the failure 
of the City of Glasgow Bank* in 1878, when industries were 
closed down and the greatest distress prevailed, the S.CW.S. 
had Httle more than recovered from its own trouble over the 
Ironworks Company. It was, nevertheless, able to assist the 
societies in affected areas to alleviate the distress caused by the 
colossal failure. When those occasional cycles of trade 
depression came, the Wholesale also stood behind the retail 
societies in their efforts to mitigate the effects. The Railway 
Strike of 1891 was marked by a lowering of prices to meet the 
necessities of the time, a step which was reflected in a decreased 
dividend. When the workers in any large industry were on 
strike for an improved standard of living, or were locked out 
by their employers in a struggle for the improvement of the 
economic conditions of the workers, the Wholesale could be 
relied upon to contribute towards funds for the relief of the 
dependent Co-operators. It is a practice at which employers 
may look askance, but non-combatants should not suffer in a 
struggle between capital and labour. During the great 
National Coal Strike of 1912 the Wholesale Society voted 
;f5,ooo for the relief of distress. It was not regarded as a 
charitable dole. The working-people, miners and others, who 
suffered were for the most part Co-operators ; the funds from 

* See page 108. 


which this contribution came had been buiJt up by the workers 
themselves and constituted a priceless nest-egg which, with the 
consent of their fellows in the S.C.W.S., they were entitled to 
make use of. On this occasion there was no doubt that the 
nest-egg was used by popular consent. The question of voting 
the £5,000 or not voting it was decided by a ballot of the 
society members of the S.C.W.S., and of 171 societies which 
voted only one voted against, two papers were spoiled, and 
the rest of the societies voted for the grant. In addition to 
that, societies reduced the price of bread and food in affected 
areas ; the price of coal had soared considerably owing to the 
strike, but in a number of districts coal vendors were 
compelled to keep their prices down to that charged by the 
local societies which, in turn, had bought their coal from the 
S.C.W.S. which had no purpose to serve by inflating its price. 
The usefulness of the S.C.W.S. was also demonstrated by the 
fact that societies in some cases had to fall back upon their 
capital deposited with it to meet the demands of people v/ho 
were unemployed. It was their own money, or, rather, the 
money of the members who called upon it ; but the fact that 
it was available is a singularly useful contrast to what 
happened elsewhere, for banks at that time declined to allow 
miners' associations to withdraw funds. In all such times of 
crisis the Wholesale seconded the efforts of the local societies 
to assist those who needed help. 

The most serious crisis of all was, of course, that occasioned 
by the Great War, and even yet the part played by the S.C.W.S. 
as a wonderful economic influence during the war cannot be 
fully understood.* The closing of the banks for three days left 
the S.C.W.S. workers in no anxiety about their wages, thanks 
to the Society's splendid resources. The Moratorium proclaimed 
on the outbreak of war postponed payment of debts, but the 
effect it had was to disturb trade and credit very considerably. 
Grain sellers across the Atlantic were not anxious to sell their 
grain except for cash down. Many buyers in the British milling 
trade were not prepared for such a contingency ; but the 
financial resources of the S.C.W.S. enabled its buyers to pay 
on the spot, and they were enabled to select their grain and 
•command suppUes of the very best quaUty at the very best 

* See next chapter for the Wholesale's social influence during the war. 


terms, while others had to take very Hniited supplies of inferior 
quahty at less favourable terms. The whole of the consumers 
in Scotland — ^whether Co-operators or not, but chiefly the 
Co-operators — derived the advantage of that transaction. The 
Wholesale determined to sell at normal prices as long as possible. 
Some days before war was declared the Master Bakers of 
Glasgow wished to raise the price of the loaf in view of the 
threat of war. The United Co-operative Baking Society 
blocked the way because the increase was not necessary, and 
for months the price of bread in Glasgow remained at the pre- 
war figure. The manager of the Baking Society stated 
afterwards without hesitation that that could not have 
happened but for the excellent fashion in which the society 
was supplied by the S.C.W.S. The Bakers could not raise the 
price while the Co-operators were selUng at the old price, and 
so the Glasgow people as a whole enjoyed their cheap loaf 
because the S.C.W.S. made it possible for the Co-operative 
societies to seU at the old price. What the U.C.B.S. did in 
Glasgow, St Cuthbert's Association did in Edinburgh. In most 
■other districts similar service was rendered, and the people 
were saved from an imposition which they would have had to 
bear without any real reason save the natural desire of the 
profiteers to make profit whenever the slightest opportunity 
came to them. In 1917, when the Northcliffe press was 
clamouring for a bread subsidy which would enable people to 
obtain the 4-lb. loaf for ninepence, at least thirty Co-operative 
societies in Scotland, deriving their flour from the S.C.W.S., 
were selling the loaf at ninepence or less ; forty-four were 
selling the loaf at a price below the price prevailing in their 
districts — ^the difference ranging from one halfpenny as in the 
case of Barrhead to twopence halfpenny as in the case of 
Newmains — the dividend paid by the society enhancing the 
difference. The bread subsidy came, and it has cost the tax- 
payer 50 millions a year to enable the customers of the private 
bakeries to secure their bread as cheaply as the members ot 
these Co-operative societies were able to purchase theirs. 

The threatened sugar famine, when war came, led to wild 
speculation on the part of the consumers, particularly those 
who had money ; and, while shopkeepers were pushing their 
prices up with feverish haste. Co-operative societies were 


selling at their fair price. The Hawick Trades Council, to 
mention one, passed a resolution nearly at the end of 1914, 
thanking the Co-operative society for keeping its sugar at 2|d. 
while others were selling at 6d. per lb. Other societies which, 
like Hawick, drew their supphes from the S.C.W.S. were 
enabled to keep the price down in the same fashion. 

The whole competitive system broke down under the strain 
of the first weeks of war, and the Government was forced to 
adopt the policy practised, from the beginning, by the S.C.W.S. 
and its constituents — the pohcy of eUminating competition and 
catering for a known market. In that it was only giving heed 
to resolutions from Co-operative societies and conferences and 
from other working-class organisations. The Government, in 
fact, was compelled in self-defence to adopt this policy. It 
was being fleeced by war contractors in time-honoured fashion. 
Everything it had to order had to be bought at enhanced 
prices, and it was in exactly the same category as the ordinary 
people of the land who did not avail themselves of the resources 
of Co-operation. The Government did discover the S.C.W.S. 
after vigorous efforts had been made to make it aware that 
such an organisation existed. It had found it out in the first 
days of war, because horses, vehicles, motor waggons and 
lorries were commandeered from almost every society in the 
country and especially from the S.C.W.S., and the agents of 
the War Office boasted quite openly of the splendid equipment 
in the way of transport requirements they had got from the 
Co-operative societies ; but it did take some little time for 
the Government to assure itself that this Co-operative concern, 
owned by common people, had factories in which necessaries 
could be produced.* Before the December meeting of the 
Wholesale in that year, 1914, orders had been received for 
69,086 suits for the British army ; 15,000 blouses and 9,000 
pairs of knickers for the Indian army ; 60,000 pairs of boots 
for the British army ; 15,000 blankets, and large quantities 
of hosiery, greatcoats, and shirts. The mills at Selkirk received 
wool direct from the sheep, prepared it, spun it into yam, wove 

♦ A large distributive society tendered for supplies for a local camp. 
Its tender was rejected, and the contract placed with a private firm, 
fhe firm apparently could not execute the order, and commissioned the 
society to execute it. The society, in turn, passed the order on to the 
S.C.W.S., which executed it. 















the yam into cloth, and transferred the cloth to the clothing 
factories where it was converted into uniforms. We doubt if 
any other contractor carried out his contract so completely in 
his own establishments. Before long other Governments 
discovered the S.C.W.S., and orders were placed, to begin with, 
for 16,000 pairs of boots for the French army and for boots 
for the Russian army. In all, contracts were completed during 
the war for groceries and provisions amounting to £108,141 ; 
drapery and clothing, £571,483 ; boots, £252,987 ; furniture, 
£4,473 — a total of £937,084. Knowledge of these contracts 
aroused a good deal of criticism on the part of rival producers, 
and on the part of agents and contractors who were not 
producers but middlemen, who resented the Co-operative 
concerns ploughing their field. They were not concerned 
about the service to the State but about their own profits. 
As usual, they reopened the old plea for the taxation of 
Co-operative profits, and held the S.C.W.S. guilty of violating 
the Co-operative charter by contracting for the Government. 
Prior to that the same people would have questioned the right 
of the S.C.W.S. to exist, but their arguments were ill-natured. 
The Government did not make requests ; it gave orders. 
If the S.C.W.S. had dechned then, the Government could have 
taken possession of the necessary estabUshments and compelled 
obedience. The S.C.W.S. performed its duty to the State, and 
it rendered valuable economic service because its goods gave 
the maximum of satisfaction. The Co-operative garment was 
known to many of the quartermaster-sergeants for its quahty 
and make, and ShieldhaU jams were easily distinguished by 
Tommies from some of the other makes. The goods were 
accepted with the minimum of complaint and with no 
profiteering. Indeed, the Co-operative News, replying to some 
of those who wrote in the press inquiring about the tax on 
these profits, intimated that the directors would probably be 
glad to challenge comparison of the S.C.W.S. profits with the 
profits made by other contractors ; but there was no response. 
The Wholesale, by general consent of the people who 
managed and the people who bought from the S.C.W.S., did 
splendidly in the supplies of all the goods for which it was 
dependent only upon itself. Before the war had run a year, 
horse-flesh was being openly sold in Glasgow shops, and, we 



believe, also in Edinburgh ; but it was not being/ sold in 
Co-operative fleshing stores. Wheat supplies were maintained 
at prices below what others could sell at, owing to the 
wonderful organisation of the S.C.W.S. in Canada. Hams and 
bacon and other farm produce were also being provided on 
terms that nobody could rival ; and in the Jubilee year — the 
last year of the war— the Scottish Co-operative Managers' 
Association passed a resolution conveying to the directors and 
staff the cordial thanks of the managers and buyers for the 
excellent way in which their wants had been catered for, 
notwithstanding the enormous difficulties that had to be 

The Government eventually became the sole importer of 
sugar and wheat ; in short, it became a universal provider 
with its agents everywhere. Tlie S.C.W.S., which had had to 
tell Co-operative societies what their allowance of sugar or 
butter would be, in order that all might get a fair share, found 
its place taken first by the Sugar Commission, then by the 
Wheat Commission, then by the Ministry of Food, the last 
mentioned carrying the process a little further and telling the 
individual how much bread he would be allowed to have in a 
restaurant or hotel, how much sugar he must use in a week, 
on what days he could have meat and on what days he could 
have potatoes — the Ministry even determined the price the 
consumer would be allowed to pay for certain goods. These 
methods were copied by the Coal Controller. 

One would have thought that the Government would have 
observed the disinterested part the S.C.W.S. was playing in 
aU its operations. In the very earhest stages of the war it 
had offered to put all its information and experience at the 
disposal of the commissions, and had offered to help in the 
great work of distributing food supplies. Its information was 
accepted and was found valuable, but no official regard was 
paid to the fact that this great distributive machine was 
operating at the behest of the half-milUon Co-operators and 
the families of these half-million — a total clientele of about two 
millions — ^because it was in the interests of the consumers that 
it should operate as it did. It had had contracts for the 
production and supply of goods for the armies ; but the 
Government steadfastly resolved — or acted as if it had 


resolved — that it would not be given any special consideration, 
and, as a matter of fact, it was not given the same consideration 
as was given to the traders whose object was to make profit. 
Even in local concerns the Co-operative organisation was 
contemned to a large extent until the period of Lord Rhondda's 
office as Food Minister, when he declared that the fullest use 
must be made of the organisation of the Co-operative societies 
and that Co-operative societies should be represented on the 
local food committees. Whether that idea was Lord Rhondda's 
or whether it was pressed upon him by his deputy and successor, 
Mr J. R. Clynes, we cannot say ; but even after that 
pronouncement the Co-operative societies found difficulty in 
securing proper representation on the advisory committees 
formed in conjunction with the food commissions. 

The Government had set out to do the right thing in the 
wrong way. It had undertaken to provide sugar, but it 
suppUed it through brokers. Speaking at the September 
meeting in 1916, the chairman told the delegates that, in 
answer to complaints to the Sugar Commission, the directors 
had been told that if they did not get their proper supphes 
from the brokers acting for the Government they should let 
the Commission know. On taking the matter up with the 
brokers, the directors were told by the brokers that they did 
not get their quantity from the Commission. There would have 
been a touch of humour in the situation if it had not meant so 
much to the people. The fact was that the Government was 
concerned about keeping the brokers in business. In 1915 the 
S.C.W.S. sold to its members 46,361 tons of sugar. Excepting 
the C.W.S. operating in England, there was probably no firm 
in the country seUing so much sugar direct to the consumer, 
and a case could be made out for special consideration. Even 
the C.W.S. could not command any better treatment from the 
Government in respect to sugar than the S.C.W.S. got. The 
membership of the societies supplied by the S.C.W.S. was 
growing enormously because people took refuge in them from 
the profiteers. This made added demands on the stocks of 
societies and on the stock of the Wholesale and reduced the 
demand upon the stocks of traders, but that brought no 
increase in supplies to the Wholesale. Even the influx of 
•workers into new munitions centres did not improve the 


supplies allowed to the S.C.W.S. until after long and vigorous 
pressure had been exercised upon the Commission. When this 
concession was made, no further effort was made by the 
Government to meet the needs of the Wholesale until the 
official rationing scheme was brought in. 

The situation with regard to wheat was no less perplexing. 
Requests had been made to the Wheat Commission to include 
representatives of the Wholesale in the Commission. The 
S.C.W.S. was the largest milling concern in Scotland, and the 
C.W.S. was probably the largest milling concern in England ; 
but neither would be allowed representation on the Commission. 
The Flour Millers' Association was represented, although it 
represented no consumers' interests, and the Food Controller 
at that time (Lord Devonport) was literally a wholesale grocer 
who could not be regarded as representing any consumers' 
interests ; and the whole moral justification for the founding 
of the Food Ministry, and the various commissions which came 
within the Controller's puiview, was that the consumers' 
interests might be protected. Lord Rhondda was the first 
Controller to give even lip service to the interests of the 
consumer. Under Lord Devonport's regime the Ministerial 
attitude was : We want your information, but we don't want 
you. The useful information given to the Wheat Commission 
regarding the S.C.W.S. organisation in Canada was a revelation 
to the grave and potent seigneurs composing it ; and, in 
recognition of this organisation, permission was given to the 
S.C.W.S. to import its own collected grain from Canada to 
supply its own mills as before. The arrangement worked all 
right. The Government had the first claim on shipping 
accommodation, but the S.C.W.S. was to be at hberty to ship 
wheat for which it could find accommodation. Eventually 
there came a time when the freight space was refused. 
Protests were made in Canada, but without success. Protests 
were made to the Commission, but the result was that the 
S.C.W.S. was informed that at the end of 1916 the privilege 
of importing its own wheat would be stopped, and whatever 
suppUes it collected would have to be sold to the Government's 
agent in Canada, and whatever supplies the mills required 
would have to be bought on this side. This meant that the 
Wholesale Society was saddled with brokerage charges for 


every quarter, besides having to take whatever wheat was 
available instead of the high-grade selected wheat the Society 
was accustomed to mill. Under its own arrangements the 
Society had been able to keep its mills well suppUed, and in 
1915 three-quarters of a million sacks of flour had been milled. 
The new arrangements meant a good deal to Co-operators in 
Scotland. In response to a demand from societies that certain 
goods should be consigned carriage paid, the directors agreed 
that this system should be inaugurated with regard to flour 
from the Society's mills ; but the Government again stepped 
in and prohibited this because, it was stated unequivocally, 
it would be unfair to other millers. The " other miUers " were 
selling to " other persons," but the Co-operative societies 
owned the S.C.W.S. and its mills and were, therefore, entitled 
to beUeve they were justified in'seUing to themselves on their 
own conditions ; but the Government's ukase in 1917 rejected 
that plain logic, apparently because the chairman of the 
British Millers' Association had asked what right the S.C.W.S. 
had to be in a better position than the private traders in any 
district. The Co-operative reply was that : " If the Wholesale 
can send goods to Wick, and it only cost 18/ to do so, what 
right have other people to say the Co-operators must charge 
20/ ? "* The S.C.W.S. directors who had been interviewing 
one food committee after another for weeks and months were 
almost forced to the conclusion that the chief function of these 
committees was to prevent the consumers from being helped. 

In 1917, when the Government regulations were issued 
making it compulsory upon millers to extract more flour from 
the wheat than was formerly regarded as the limit of safety 
to the pubhc health, and husks formerly thrown aside for 
feeding cattle had to be converted into flour for human 
consumption, there was a vigorous outcry from the public 
which ultimately led to the use of imported white flour from 
America being allowed. The S.C.W.S. was once again 
penalised for its national service.' The Milling Committee 
decided that the S.C.W.S. could only get the allowance of flour 
that it imported in 1915 ; but the S.C.W.S. imported very 
httle flour in 1915, or in any year after the estabUshment of 
its own mills. Politicians who adopted the Tariff Reform 

* S.C.W.S. Chairman at quarterly meeting in Glasgow — June 1917. 


programme had familiarised people with the war-cry : " The 
foreigner has got my job." The S.C.W.S. had imported wheat 
rather than flour ; it had developed its big mUUng industry 
and had given to Scottish millers the job which other flour 
merchants were willing to leave to the foreigner ; but when 
it came to this food crisis the people who gave the American 
miUers the work the Scotsmen could do were allowed the 
advantage of using the white flour, while the S.C.W.S. had 
to be content with a small proportion of this to blend with 
the Government Regulation flour which wrought havoc with 
the digestive organs of all — Co-operators or others — who used it. 
The S.C.W.S. creameries, erected at Enniskillen by Scottish 
Co-operators to make butter for themselves, were put under 
control, and the products had to be sent to Liverpool where 
a clearing-house was estabhshed ; but the result was that the 
S.C.W.S. was making butter for its own members and, for a 
time, could not get the use of any of it. The Government 
urged people engaged in the egg trade to collect all the eggs 
they could and put what were not immediately required into 
cold storage. The S.C.W.S. collected its eggs, stored what it 
could at Enniskillen ; but was told, when it wished to send 
the surplus to cold storage, that the Government required its 
available cold storage for other things. Meat distribution was 
brought also under Government control, and the Scime unfair 
discrimination was shown against the S.C.W.S. until the 
Co-operators made a noise and the state of affairs was 
improved, the manager of the S.C.W.S. meat department being 
appointed to the executive of the South of Scotland Wholesale 
Meat Supply Association. In connection with margarine there 
was room for serious complaint. The Controller had set up a 
clearing-house for this article with the avowed objects of 
preventing overlapping in the distribution of margarine, of 
organising the various districts of the country with a view to 
facihtating distribution, and of saving carriage. These objects 
the Government attempted to achieve by sending S.C.W.S. 
margarine, made in Scotland, to private traders in England 
for distribution among EngUsh consumers, and by sending the 
productions of makers in England and elsewhere into Scotland 
for distribution among Scottish Co-operators. Thus, the 
Controller conceived, overlapping would be stopped, distribution 


expedited and facilitated, and carriage saved. With regard to 
margarine, the S.C.W.S. delegates were informed* by the 
directors : " We could have rendered the Controller of this 
article valuable assistance, and were willing to do so, if he 
had cared to listen to what experience we had, but this he 
would not do." In coal distribution, also, the adoption of the 
" datum period " basis of allocation was unfair to a growing 
concern hke the Co-operative movement and hampered the 
S.C.W.S. in providing for its members. 

To move among the S.C.W.S. directors and the directors 
and managers of the distributive societies during those periods 
of scarcity was to encounter, at every turn, men utterly 
impatient of the methods of the Government and men almost 
in despair of ever persuading the Government- officials and 
agents to take a sensible view of their functions. Lord 
Rhondda did agree, in July of 1917, that he would recognise 
the boards of the C.W.S. and the S.C.W.S. as the central 
organisations representing the trading departments of the 
Co-operative movement, and the two boards appointed a war 
emergency sub-committee to conduct negotiations with him. 
Despite this arrangement, which afforded the S.C.W.S. and 
the sister federation the opportunity of making direct 
representations to the Controller, the Controller was guided 
by his commissions and the commissions by the advisory 
committees, and Lord Rhondda's arrangement was robbed of 
much of its efficacy. Co-operative indignation was so aroused 
in Scotland that a large attendance of Scottish delegates took 
part in the special emergency Co-operative conference held in 
London in October 1917. While there, the delegates invited 
Scottish members of Parliament to meet them to discuss these 
complaints. The meeting was held in one of the committee 
rooms of the House of Commons, when the complaints regarding 
the food supplies were voiced by Mr Robert Stewart. Complaints 
regarding unfair treatment of Co-operative societies in respect 
to the calUng up of employees for military service were voiced 
chiefly by Mr H. J. May, secretary of the Joint Co-operative 
Parliamentary Committee, but this matter affected the retail 
societies more than the S.C.W.S. Mr Stewart's complaints 
were listened to attentively by members of all parties ; 
* 15th June 1918, Glasgow. 


questions were asked and replied to ; and the delegates retired 
atter having been informed that their statements would be 
very carefully considered — an assurance which almost any 
deputation to almost any body with reference to almost any 
subject could rely upon at almost any time in the history of 
almost any Ministry. 

The appointment of the Consumers' Council gave a new 
hope to Co-operators because the S.C.W.S. was represented 
on it. It comprised six Labour representatives, six Co-operators, 
three representatives from national women's organisations, and 
four members appointed by the Government to represent the 
unorganised consumers. It was an eminently fair " Consumers' 
Council " so far as constitution went. It was represented on 
all the advisory committees dealing with the principal food- 
stuffs ; it was allowed the privilege of considering the orders 
of the Food Ministry before these were proclaimed ; and its 
knowledge of actualities enabled it to render excellent service 
to the people as a whole. Its pohcy was all in favour of 
rationing essential foodstuffs to all on an equitable basis and 
of keeping prices from rising when it could not secure their 
reduction. Like the emergency committee of the two 
Wholesale Societies, it was devoid of any administrative part 
in food control ; it was only an advisory council ; and so its 
work was, to a considerable extent, discounted, although it 
was instrumental in securing a modification or improvement 
in some of the orders it was proposed to issue. 

Despite all the drawbacks of the situation. Co-operators 
had a sense of triumph in the whole administration of the food 
supply by the Government. Speaking in September 1917, two 
months after Lord Rhondda had " recognised " the two 
Wholesale boards, Mr Stewart expressed the common 
Co-operative view when he said : " If we take a retrospective 
view of our activities we find much to encourage us to persevere. 
Our principles have advanced, notwithstanding the keen 
opposition arrayed against us. We have even succeeded in 
impressing the Food Controller with the potentialities of our 
movement. In these times of stress and strain, as an 
organisation we have been able to render much valuable 
assistance in connection with the controlling of prices and the 
regulating of the supplies of food. The influence of the 


middleman has weakened. Competitive buying has, to a 
large extent, been supplanted. The State has become the 
buyer of many of the necessities of life. By this action 
the Government has exposed the insufficiency of private 
enterprise and has acknowledged the utility and economy of 

He was not the only one who recognised all this. The 
middlemen recognised it, and the Government recognised it ; 
and it was probably due to the fact that these two great 
powers recognised it that subsequent acts of the Government 
seemed to be even more clumsily restrictive of Co-operative 
freedom. The Prime Minister decUned to receive a Co- 
operative deputation which was to put the case for the whole 
Co-operative movement, and the emergency conference already 
mentioned was held largely because of the provocation that refusal 
conveyed. To that refusal was also due the speeding up of 
the poUtical machinery of the Co-operative movement. The 
holding of the conference resulted in the Prime Minister 
receiving a deputation later, and Mr Gallacher, who represented 
the S.C.W.S. board, spoke pretty plainly to the Prime Minister, 
who complained to the deputation about their holding a 
meeting against him. 

The object of the control of food was highly commendable, 
but what went wrong to prevent its proper application was 
that the control committees forgot what the object was. 
They were more concerned about " keeping the existing 
channels of trade open " than they were about securing 
suppUes at reasonable prices for the consumer. While 
convinced of the costliness and the superfluity of the middle- 
men, they were resolved if possible to keep the middlemen 
in existence and impose their intervention on an organisation 
that did not need them or use them before. Government 
buyers and agents were undoubtedly necessary ; but, even if 
they were, the Government could have saved enormously if it 
had followed the example of the Wholesale Societies, which 
appointed their tea buyer on a fixed salary and discarded the 
system of payment by commission — a system which the 
Government adopted too often in its food supply arrangements. 
When all the difficulties and mistakes are fuUy measured, 
there still remains the truth of the chairman's statement 


already quoted : " The influence of the middleman has 
weakened " (although not disappeared). " Competitive buying- 
has, to a large extent, been supplanted. By this action the 
Government has exposed the insufficiency of private enterprise 
and has acknowledged the utiUty and economy of Co-operation." 
A less biased commendation of the Co-operative principle 
came from the editorial columns of the Glasgow Herald on the 
eve of the first anniversary of the declaration of war when, 
weighing up the cost and the sacrifice involved by the war, 
the view was expressed that, if we could substitute, throughout 
the world, the spirit of Co-operation for the spirit ot competition, 
the great struggle would not be in vain. 







The Co-operative movement does not regard itself merely as 
a trading concern. Co-operation is a law of Ufe. It seeks to 
disestablish the individualism of the competitive system which, 
in its most powerful form, is the apotheosis of selfishness, and 
it seeks to substitute for it the spirit of Co-operation for the 
common good of society. It tries to ehminate aU that will 
provoke men to take advantage of one another ; to create a 
human sympathy in the community ; and to dissipate all that 
tends to perpetuate the inequity that has created masses and 
classes and embittered the one against the other. In many 
places the Co-operative society is the centre of social life as weU 
as a great factor in the economic hfe of the people, and the 
more perfect the society is the greater will it be both as a social 
factor and an economic factor — the one no less than the other. 
Notwithstanding its extensive interests and the multitudinous 
fields of its activities, the S.C.W.S. cannot shed the social 
features which pertain to its component societies. It cannot 
regard itself as something outwith the people, and it associates 
itself readily with all the heart-beats of the nation of which 
it is part and of the towns in which its establishments are 

Looking back over the records of fifty years we find many 
evidences of this. The S.C.W.S. had scarcely embarked upon 
its economic mission when it began to associate itself with the 
infirmaries of the city. Its first step in that direction was 
to subscribe £2, 2s., but in five years the annual subscription 


had gone up to £20. In other five years the subscription 
became £30, in other five it was £50, in 1887 it was £100, 
and from 1891 till 1899 it rose at the rate of £100 a year till 
it reached £1,000. Since then the rate has increased, and 
since 19 16 the annual subscriptions to the maintenance fxmds 
of infirmaries and hospitals have amounted to £3,000. In this 
way, till the eve of the Society's Jubilee, £44,737 had been 
subscribed. Besides that sums, varying with the demand but 
amounting in all to £25,166, have been subscribed to building 
funds, funds for the endowment of beds, and other special 
funds connected with these valuable institutions. To the 
building and maintenance funds of the Scottish Co-operative 
Convalescent Homes £15,812 has been subscribed, and £5,755 
has been subscribed to Co-operative memorials of one kind or 
another. In a society so representative of the working-classes 
it would only be expected that times of disaster would see the 
S.C.W.S. acting sympathetically, and £2,046 has been 
subscribed for the relief of distress caused by colliery 
accidents, earthquakes, and famines. The S.C.W.S. does not 
hmit its generosity to disasters affecting its own people, for 
a famine in India, an earthquake in Italy, a colliery explosion 
in Belgium, also make an appeal that is not disregarded. 
To various funds for the rehef of distress caused by strikes, 
lock-outs, unemployment, and other industrial trouble, 
£7,218 has been subscribed. Educational institutions have 
benefited by votes amounting to £1,750, not including £300 
for Ruskin College. A contribution of £500 went to the 
Co-operative Parliamentary Fund, a similar sum went to the 
Co-operative Veterans Association as a Jubilee gift out of a 
total of £30,000 devoted to Jubilee donations, and sundry 
other good objects have had gifts amounting to £303. 
When the South African War was in progress, £700 was 
subscribed to the rehef of distress among the families of 
Reservists. In the Great War of 1914 the S.C.W.S. was 
constantly subscribing to one fund or another. The treatment 
of the Belgian refugees at Calderwood is referred to in 
Chapter XIII. ; but the Wholesale's donations to the various 
war funds were no less than £24,219, besides £200 voted to 
the Belgian and French Co-operative Societies' War Emergency 
Fund — ^which is only a trifle of what the S.C.W.S. has 


undertaken to do to help in the restoration of Co-operative 
organisations in the devastated areas of Europe. Reference has 
been made in a preceding chapter to the relations between 
the Society and its employees. What has to be said here might 
have been said there, but it appears to be more in the nature 
of social service than economic influence. When the war broke 
out a good many of the employees were Territorials or Reservists. 
The directors agreed to give to the dependants of each of these 
men the difference between Army pay and the wages paid by 
the Wholesale. This, as can be imagined, relieved the men 
called up of a great deal of natural anxiety regarding the 
welfare of those they had to leave behind. Those who felt 
prompted to serve the nation under the Colours left with the 
same guarantee, and there is no gainsaying the fact that this 
decision facilitated recruiting to a considerable extent among 
the Wholesale employees. Up till the end of 1918 no less a 
sum than ;^i28,797 had been paid in wages to employees with 
the Colours. These men had their places kept for them ; 
those who returned to work were all reinstated and received, 
not only their old wage, but the increases that would have 
accrued to them had they remained at work all the time they 
were with the Forces of the Crown. It must not be forgotten 
that these moneys were paid to all these purposes by the men 
and women of the retail societies which were members of the 
S.C.W.S. These retail societies were subscribing generously to 
similar objects, and their members through their trade unions, 
their friendly societies, their church organisations, and their 
workshops ; and the Wholesale's contribution was an added 
subscription, not only wilhngly given but insisted upon. It is 
a fact worthy of note that the Co-operative societies in the 
kingdom paid wages or allowances to their employees in the 
Army and Navy which would probably be underestimated at 
two millions while the war lasted. Of the S.C.W.S. employees 
over 2,000 men joined up. Of this number 271 were killed, 
24 were presumed to have been killed, 276 were wounded, 
62 were invahded, and, at the end of 1918, 10 were missing 
and 43 were prisoners of war. The following awards for 
bravery on the field were gained — viz., twenty-one Military 
Medals, eight Distinguished Conduct Medals, one Military Cross 
and Bar, one Distinguished Service Medal, and one promoted 


on the field to be a lieutenant. Two gained both the D.C.M. 
and the Military Medal ; one of them was killed. Two of the 
employees who gained the Mihtary Medal were also killed. 
The Wholesale's interest in its own employees with the 
Colours led to a kindly interest being taken in the wounded 
soldiers in hospitals where the Wholesale had business 
premises. The employees of the Wholesale acted with 
splendid generosity in supplying gifts for these men, as well 
as for those at the front, and they frequently arranged social 
evenings for those in the hospitals ; but the Society itself 
revelled in work of this kind. Special gatherings were held in 
Glasgow and Edinburgh and Leith and Dundee each year at 
which the men were royally feasted and entertained and 
presented with smoking material and confectionery ; but the 
greatest treats of all were the splendid cruises given in two 
successive summers when large parties — 700 soldiers on one 
occasion — ^were taken on specially chartered steamers down the 
Clyde to Loch GoU. At the first of these, when the steamer 
was nearing the Broomielaw, Mr Stewart, responding to the 
votes of thanks which the cheering Tommies accorded the 
Wholesale, expressed the hope that the day would not be far 
distant when the world would be free of mihtarism. The 
expressed wish was the signal for a fresh outburst of cheering 
from the wounded lads who had learned something of the 
social spirit of Co-operation. 

Needless to say, all this had its effect on retail societies 
which hastened to foUow the excellent example of the Wholesale. 
Social gatherings for soldiers were held in almost every centre. 
Work parties of employees in the S.C.W.S. and in the societies 
and among the women's guilds were busy day after day Imitting 
socks for soldiers, and where there were Belgian refugees they 
were always hospitably entertained by the Co-operators. 

The social enterprises of the Co-operative societies were 
warmly helped by the Wholesale. The frequent visits paid to 
the Wholesale factories by parties of Co-operators brought the 
members of societies into a harmonious relationship that could 
not exist among people who were simply customers at the one 
shop. The fact of their joint ownership of the Wholesale 
establishments, the fact that they were the employers of this 
great army of workers, and the pride that they took in the 


orderliness of all the establishments and the healthy surroundings 
of the workers gave them a common interest, and filled them 
with a common desire to promote the social well-being of the 
employees and of the members for whom they worked. This 
has reacted on the workers favourably, and has tended to promote 
the kindlier feeling between these employees and their employers 
which is an undoubted mark of the service, and which is some- 
thing that wages alone could not produce. The frequent shows 
held under the auspices of the drapery department and of the 
dried fruit department also tended to develop the social spirit. 
Every new factory opened, every new warehouse extension, 
was made the occasion of a festive gathering which made the 
Co-operators in Brechin and Galashiels not only members of 
one association but friends. Even greater intimacy was 
developed by the periodical exhibitions of Co-operative pro- 
ductions held in different centres. One of these exhibitions 
was held at the opening of the Paisley Road warehouse in 1873. 
Others have been held in nearly every town in Scotland. At 
first the district exhibitions were small affairs, and consisted of 
a display of Wholesale products ; but they grew in scope and 
magnitude and attractiveness. One of the first of the kind with 
which Co-operators are famihar was held in Barrhead in the 
early 'nineties. Even that was on a small scale ; but the last 
pre-war exhibition was held in St Andrew's Hall, Glasgow. It 
lasted for several days, and was typical of what had been shown 
at most other exhibitions for some years. Every phase of 
S.C.W.S. production was represented ; girls were seen at work 
on clothing; and printing and bootmaking and brushmaking 
machines were also seen by the thousands who crowded to the 
place during the days of the exhibition. The Co-operative 
societies in the area where such exhibitions were held were 
usually invited to send delegates to a conference at which the 
whole relations between the Wholesale and the retail societies 
were discussed, the chief purpose being to forge the Unk of 
friendship between Co-operators and their organisations. Even 
the children were not overlooked, and the visits of the young 
people to Co-operative establishments and the little parties 
arranged for them at which the social sense was instilled into 
them and the spirit of comradeship developed, have all had a social 
influence the value of which cannot be either denied or belittled. 


As a part of the social structure the S.C.W.S. and the 
delegates attending its meetings have consulted the nation's 
needs in many respects, and it has lent itself to the good of the 
community. In 1908 the Society decided that any of its 
employees who were elected to town councils or other public 
boards should be allowed facilities for attendance to those 
duties. The directorate has always had several prominent 
members of municipal councils. Mr Maxwell, we saw, had 
stood for Parhament. Mr Andrew MiUer, the last secretary, 
was for long a BaiHe of TiUicoultry ; the names of Baihe 
Murphy of Lanark, Bailie Stevenson of Kilmarnock, Bailie 
M'Nab of Leith, Bailie Arthur of Paisley, Baihe Stewart of 
Kinning Park, BaiHe Little of Galashiels, Bailie M'Donald of 
Dumbarton, Treasurer Young of Musselburgh, Bailie Allan 
of Perth, and Councillor Bardner of Dunfermline go to show 
the measure of interest taken in pubUc affairs by the men who 
have led the S.C.W.S. in our own day. Mr Robert Stewart 
would have been Provost of Kinning Park had the burgh 
retained its individuality for another year or two ; but on the 
shoulders of the secretary, Mr Pearson, has descended the 
mantle of the Provost of Alloa, and Mr A. B. Weir, one of his 
colleagues on the board, is the Provost of Barrhead, from which 
the S.C.W.S. itself may be said to have drawn the breath of hfe. 
It need only be added that few of the members of the board 
have not at one time or another been members of school boards, 
and Mr T. B. StirUng is a couiity councillor. When the 
movement decided that the time was ripe for the nomination 
of Co-operative candidates for Parliament, the Co-operators of 
hkely constituencies turned their eyes to the Wholesale board ; 
but the directors turned theirs to the responsibUities of their 
office and their duties to the great institution itself, and they 
decided that, while the movement shoidd be represented in 
Parliament, they could not serve the electorate in Parhament 
and serve the Co-operators in Morrison Street and West Africa and 
Leith and India at the same time. The shareholders took that 
view also, after having digested the board's report on the subject, 
otherwise several members of the board would have been subjected 
to the tender mercies of the heckler at the general election. 

One thing is certain, the experiences of the directors and of 
the regular attenders at the Wholesale meetings have been an 









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excellent education for public service. The men and women 
who, week after week, are discussing the business of this great 
concern intelligently, have a grasp of the things that matter. 
The problems of employment and the organisation of industry, 
the problem of food and wages, the problem of our whole social 
relationships, all come under the purview of the directors and 
delegates aJike, and without an intimate knowledge of these 
things no body can legislate for an industrial nation. 

The social spirit is largely developed among the employees 
of the Wholesale as well as among the members. They, in 
their various departments, do in their own way and in their 
own name what the Society itself is doing in a larger sphere or 
in a larger degree. They have their regular self-imposed levies 
for philanthropic objects, and the pubUc institutions benefit 
to the extent of over ;£i,ooo from the generosity of the employees. 
Their contract at the desk or at the bench does not end there, 
for many of them are active members of distributive societies 
and meet at conferences and congresses and other Co-operative 
assemblies. Apart from that, they have their own associations, 
managed by themselves for their own benefit or amusement. 
The Shieldhall printers, for example, inaugurated a series of 
excursions to England on such a big scale that several special 
trains were usually required to carry the party. This trip 
might have gone on still but for the war. The " office picnic " 
was for a long time an annual fixture in the Morrison Street 
programme. Until the war, almost every warehouse had its 
social gathering which established the best possible relations 
between the ladies and, or, gentlemen employed there. 
Shieldhall used to have its football club ; the drapery department 
had its bowhng club, and the athletic tastes of the various 
departments found an outlet somewhere. The " ofiice crowd " 
had its debating society for a time, and its musical associations. 
When a comrade was down Ul, his fellows could throw their 
enthusiasm into working up a benefit concert, and one of this 
" office crowd " tells with some little joy of the expression in 
the face of a sick comrade and his wife on being handed a little 
bag of fifty sovereigns raised by one of these concerts. We 
have attended a smoking concert at which prizes were presented 
in connection with a season's bowling. Nearly everybody got 
a prize, and every prize was an article for a lady, so that there 



woiald be no obstacle in the way of the members joining again 
the following year. We have witnessed " Rob Roy " produced 
by a complete company of S.C.W.S. employees, with actors, 
chorus, and orchestra all from within the establishment. The 
Wholesale establishments are rich in magazine clubs and reading 
clubs. In nearly every estabUshment there is a holiday fund 
club. In the head office holiday fund the average income before 
the war was about £3,000 a year, and one of the officials tells 
us that if it were not for the holiday fund " most of us would 
be broke when the Fair comes." The Employees' Sick Benefit 
Society, which is open to all the employees, has distributed 
nearly £6,000 among members who have been laid aside. The 
latest organisation to be added is the S.C.W.S. Band, a combina- 
tion of employees which bids fair to take a high place in musical 

These associations are aU highly commendable, not only 
for the immediate purpose they serve, but for the spirit of 
fellowship they create and stimulate ; and such a spirit among 
the 9,000 or 10,000 employees raises their occupation from the 
level of what is usually called work to the level of social service ; 
and there is probably no concern in the country whose employees 
have a higher morale than that exhibited by the men and women 
employees of the Wholesale. 









We have set forth the story of fifty years' progress in the 
preceding pages, so far as that story can be generalised. The 
story tells what the Co-operative system had to supplant, the 
reform it was expected to effect, and how it has been effected. 
It goes without saying that those who are most zealous for the 
estabhshment of the Co-operative commonwealth — the ideal of 
all true Co-operators — are not convinced that the goal has been 
reached. We would be nearer the truth if we said that the 
more zealous they are for that goal the more they are convinced 
that it has not been reached ; and the zealous, more than 
anybody else in the whole Co-operative movement, know full 
weU that an ideal realised ceases to be an ideal and becomes 
only the stepping-stone to greater things. 

It has been impossible to go into the intimate details of the 
great .Society with its living, thinking units, each of whom 
beUeved in the reality of the reform which Co-operation would 
bring, and many of whom would be amazed, were they spared 
till to-day, at what has actually been accomphshed. 

In the chronicles of the Wholesale there are records of many 
full-dress debates to which considerable space was given in 
the Co-operative press. Much could be culled from these ; but 
we have had to content ourselves with setting forth the greater 
factors which concerned the Wholesale and moulded it, and 
built it up, into what it is now — a triumph of the persevering 


efforts of the working-classes of the country. It has been 
impossible to reconstruct many scenes that would interest 
Co-operators of to-day ; for that would have been a task so 
engrossing that we would have been tempted to enlarge upon 
what, after all, were only incidents in the great journey which 
began in 1868. 

What that task would have been will be fully apparent to 
those who have attended the quarterly delegate meetings for 
any length of time, and we have tried so far as possible to 
eliminate the merely personal episodes of the fifty years covered 
by the review now nigh completed. The personal, however, 
was a great influence in the early days. Take away the foresight 
of the unknown " Juniper " of Hawick and Scotland's voice 
would have been almost unheard while Henry Pitman was 
strugghng to convince Co-operators — English and Scottish — 
of the need for Wholesale Co-operation. Take away the 
irrepressible doggedness of John MTnnes, and the S.C.W.S. 
might never have taken shape. Despite his one blunder, 
Borrowman did spade work that laid the foundations of the 
structure of which Co-operators in Scotland are justly proud. 
Everybody was not against him. He made a bold bid to set a 
promising productive concern on its feet. Had the risk been 
followed by success, many who, in the event, reviled him would 
have praised his foresight. He failed, and he bore the penalty 
of failure ; but the failure was not one which prevents 
Co-operators of to-day raising their hats to his memory. 
To-day, when Uttle seems impossible to the S.C.W.S., and 
when no enterprise seems outwith its scope. Co-operators must 
pay their respects to those who pioneered the Society — ^not only 
to those who organised Co-operative opinion in favour of its 
inception and organised the capital which set it out on its 
great mission to revolutionise the domestic conditions of the 
people, but also to those who conducted the business of the 
Society in its opening years and engaged some of the officials 
who stiU stand by the old ship. 

Mr Richard Lees, a former stalwart in St Cuthbert's 
Association, is the only member of the original board who 
remains.* His name was greeted with cheers when St Cuthbert's 

* News of the death of Mr Lees came to hand as these pages were ready 
for the press. 


Association celebrated its jubilee in 1909. It was greeted with 
cheers when it was mentioned at the S.C.W.S. Jubilee, although 
he was not present on that memorable occasion. Mr Lees has 
shaken the dust of Edinburgh from his feet, and has been in 
residence in Glasgow with his relatives for some years. His 
hair carries the snows of years ; his hearing is impaired ; his 
memory is not what it was ; but the occurrence of the S.C.W.S. 
Jubilee aroused a keen sense of delight, and he was looking 
forward to taking part. Indeed, it was with difficulty that he 
was prevented from being present ; but the risk to his health 
was too great, and so the old man sat in his armchair at home 
and heard the wonderful story of the progress of the babe he 
nursed to hfe fifty years before. Old directors have gone one 
by one. The latest of them was Mr John Pettigrew, who 
represented Beith Society on the board in 1879. His fortunes 
drove him to Glasgow, where he was a devoted member of 
St George Society for many years, and acted, for a long time, 
as secretary of the delegates' council of St George. 

Mr AUan Gray, still the cashier of the Society, always looks 
back with pride on the early days when he acted as secretary. 
Co-operators are deeply appreciative of his work, and when the 
Jubilee arrived he was one of the most popular officials in the 
Society. Mr David Rowat, another old director, is one of the 
most respected Co-operative managers in Scotland. Mr W. F. 
Stewart, who, despite his long years of service, would never 
have grown old had the Government not inaugurated wheat 
control, occupies a niche quite his own ; for had his vigorous 
and candid eloquence not been devoted to promoting the 
establishment of the Leith branch of the Wholesale, it is quite 
possible that a separate wholesale society might have been set 
up for the East of Scotland in the 'seventies of the last century. 
It would have been a misfortune ; but Mr Stewart's eloquence 
was convincing, and the S.C.W.S. took the step which gave to 
the societies in the East the benefits they sought and so averted 
a mistake. Mr Alexander Meldrum, the old president, who 
gave place to Mr Maxwell's chum, Andrew Boa, is another 
survivor of the past. Mr Meldrum has, for many years, been 
an honorary member of the Central Board of the Co-operative 
Union, and he stiU retains an affection for the Wholesale which 
is only rivalled by his delight at its great achievements. We 


sometimes wonder, too, what would have happened to the 
Wholesale if Mr John Barrowman had not allowed himself to 
be persuaded to take the treasurership when he did. He 
commanded the support of trade unionists, and won renewed 
confidence in the Wholesale at a time when confidence was 
shaken. His work for the federation has been described,* but 
his record cannot be extolled too often. Mr John Allan, who 
was revered by Co-operators in England and Scotland aUke, 
though dead still speaks to us from the past, and his kindly 
message to Co-operators at aU times breathes the spirit of 
comradeship and bids them rise from all pettiness to the high 
ideals of mutual helpfulness. Of those who still live to guide 
the destinies of the Wholesale we dare say nothing. They are 
men still subject to the authority of the quarterly meeting — 
a tribunal not to be regarded lightly. But two presidents 
cannot be passed over without a final word. 

Mr Maxwell, now Sir William Maxwell, K.B.E.,t president 
of the International Co-operative Alliance, who is probably the 
best known Co-operator in Europe, climbed to his position by 
sheer force of energy and ability. When he accepted the respon- 
sibility of the presidency, he threw everything else aside. He 
devoted himself to the task of building up the Wholesale solidly. 
It was a task which had to be pursued by methods adapted to 
circumstances. It might be that the exigencies of the service 
demanded that he should be across the Atlantic seeking supplies, 
or in England seeking help and advice from his English friends. 
It might be that the Wholesale could be best served by his 
attending a soiree in some obscure little village haU in Lanark- 
shire or Fife — and on some such occasions, as he has frequently 
told, he has not only had to deliver an address, but has had to 
say the grace and sing a song. He did his work well in either 
case. His successor has also climbed the ladder rung by rung. 
There is scarcely a Co-operative district in Scotland to which 
Mr Stewart has not given propagandist help ; and, though a 
devoted Liberal in poUtics for many years, when it became 
apparent that people elected to Parliament on the old political 
issue were using their votes against a movement which could 

• See pages 105, 111-2, 216. 

t Mr Maxwell was knighted by the King and received the accolade at 
Buckingham Palace in August 1919. 


point to such an excellent record of useful work done on behalf 
of the people, he cut the old bonds and declared himself on the 
side of ^-operation and its ameliorative, unselfish pohcy. 

In the chapters that have gone before we have alluded to 
the more important events in the Society's history as fully as 
has been permissible ; yet a fund of anecdote might be collected 
from the pages of the past. The S.C.W.S. has rarely failed to 
impress visitors, whether from Scotland or England or from 
countries beyond the sea. Mr Holyoake's account of the 
majority celebrations, for example, is specially noteworthy for 
one interesting touch. Writing of the dinner at Shieldhall, he 
said : " A large gilded 6pergne, stretched before the chairman, 
in which golden fish disported, whose movements being reflected 
on the mirrored surface below them, caused Mr Mitchell to 
exclaim that the ' golden days ' of Co-operation had come. 
More than six hundred persons dined sumptuously without 
defect or inconvenience to anyone. There was not only 
afSuence, but the affluence was always at hand. At the 
Manchester Wholesale celebration, out of the number of waiters 
engaged, seventy-nine never appeared, which caused great 
defect of service. At ShieldhaU there was a waiter to every 
ten persons." In the same account, referring to the laying 
of the memorial stone of the new drapery warehouse, he 
remarked that : " The ceremony was preceded by a prayer by 
Mr Marshall, which was not too long, and had the happy grace 
of relevance." 

Mr Holyoake had a more interesting recollection of the 
Glasgow Co-operative Congress of 1890. Part of the Congress- 
arrangements provided for an excellent exhibition of Co-operative 
productions. The Rochdale Society made a special show of 
Co-operative tobacco, and when Mr MaxweU was showing 
Lord Rosebery round the exhibition the attendant at the stall 
kindly offered his Lordship a sample of the Co-operative 
product. His Lordship was duly appreciative of the gift— so 
appreciative that he produced it proudly in the evening for 
some of his friends to share. Unhappily, however, the 
attendant had given him a show packet which contained sawdust 
instead of tobacco. The mistake had been discovered eventually 
by the attendant ; but his Lordship had left the exhibition 
by then. When the mistake was explained by Mr MaxweU, 


Lord Rosebery laughed at his discomfiture and enjoyed 
the joke immensely. An effort was made to keep the matter 
quiet ; but it was too good a joke to be lost, and Mr Holyoake 
told the story in his special article on the Congress in the 
Co-operative News. 

Of the employees many interesting stories might be told, 
and probably will be told some day ; but we cannot refrain, 
even in this case, from recalling that on one occasion when 
stocktaking was in progress, and when aU hands were turned on, 
one of the stocktakers put on duty in the furniture warehouse 
was a venerable old servant who did not like to be left out but 
whose sight was not what it once was. He had been put on 
to take the inventory in the linoleum department, and when 
his sheet came to be checked there was a roll of linoleum too 
many. He would not accept that and counted again, only to 
be convinced that he was right. The checker went over the 
stock with him, and then it transpired that the old man had 
persisted in counting in an iron column as a roll of linoleum. 
These little humours did lighten things at the Wholesale often ; 
but they did not lessen the appreciation of the members for 
the good work done by the employees, and the Society has been 
well served by a devoted band of workers who, on the whole, 
bear excellent records, while some stand out as shining examples 
by reason of their excellent personal character. Reference has 
already been made to old James Leggatt, the Society's 
nonagenarian. From being a drawboy in a Paisley mill at the 
age of eight to being a buyer in one of the biggest warehouses 
in the country (with its two millions of a turnover) was a big 
stride. He was the weaver of a plaid shawl which gained the 
prize medal at the great London Exhibition of 1862, and the 
shawl was afterwards shown at Berlin and elsewhere. Quite as 
remarkable as his old age was James's record as a family man. 
He and his wife were spared to live together for thirty-seven 
years. They had a family of seventeen ; but they adopted 
another, an orphan girl, because she was friendless, and, so far 
as they were concerned, James and his wife mutually agreed 
that an extra bairn would make little difference. At the social 
functions held by the drapery warehouse staff — often dress 
dinner — James was always present, even after he had passed 
his eightieth year. With his Gladstone collar, his fine gold 


watch chain round his neck in the old style and showing across 
his shirt front, he looked a picture of contentment, refusing 
proffered cigars and smoking what he liked best — a long, clean, 
clay pipe filled with Shieldhall tobacco. 

In the historical section of this volume there is appropriate 
reference made to Mr James Marshall, the first grocery buyer 
for the Wholesale Society, who succeeded Mr Borrowman as 
the manager. Mr Marshall continued to act as buyer for a 
time after he succeeded Mr Borrowman ; but there were other 
buyers who left their mark on Co-operative annals. Mr Richard 
Lees, whom we have already mentioned, was also a buyer in 
his time. Mr Lees was succeeded as a buyer by Mr Robert 
Reybum, manager of the Dumbarton Equitable Society ; but 
Mr Reybum lingered longer on the Co-operative stage as an 
active official, and came down to quite recent days as the 
secretary of the Co-operative Drapery and Furnishing Society, 
Glasgow. The branch of the grocery department for which he 
acted as buyer is that now under the supervision of Mr Malcolm 
M'Callum. In the historical section we refer to the first foreign 
mission of the directors of the S.C.W.S. Mr Marshall may be 
described as the first S.C.W.S. missionary in foreign fields, for, 
in 1873 or 1874, he was sent to Denmark along with Mr WUde, 
of the EngHsh Wholesale Society, in search of supplies of butter. 

The quarterly meetings provided a rich store of anecdote 
too. The meetings were looked forward to by the delegates, 
particularly by the regular attenders ; and those who attended 
a meeting for the first time were always eager to go back. When 
we think of some of the great discussions that took place, we 
are reminded of a street corner altercation we once overheard. 
One speaker was telling his listeners what the country owed to 
the Liberal Government. Old age pensions was cited as one 
provision for which we were indebted to them, and one of the 
listeners asked : Are you giving the Liberals credit for that ? 
" It was not the Government that decided that," he added; 
" it was us. We settled that at this corner." Many important 
decisions have been arrived at at the S.C.W.S. meetings, and 
many important new ventures have been agreed upon ; but 
in many cases these were thought out in quiet, informal chats 
among working men in their mills or mines before the societies 
of which they were members decided to send notice of motion 


to the Wholesale. The starting of the Leith branch, the opening 
out of the depot at Kilmarnock, the appointing of the directors 
as full-time men, even the starting of some of the productive 
works, were all matters which, in many instances, had been 
fuUy considered and planned by their advocates without formahty 
— and without fear. The bonus controversy was probably the 
most serious of all ; but some of the most rousing discussions 
have centred round the Progress Society. This society is quite 
unique among Scottish societies. The employees of the 
Wholesale had had the privilege that was extended to the 
employees of most big estabUshments in the country of making 
cash purchases for themselves at wholesale prices. The privilege 
obtains in most big warehouses yet ; or, if employees are not 
suppUed at wholesale prices, they are allowed a considerable 
discount on the ordinary retail prices, always on the under- 
standing that the articles purchased are for their own use. 
In 1895, however, the delegates at the quarterly meeting of the 
S.C.W.S. discussed the question, and a motion was submitted 
by Mr Clark, of Kilmarnock, that " the present system of 
employees and directors having the privilege of purchasing 
goods from the S.C.W.S. at wholesale prices be discontinued." 
There were several amendments to this tabled at the same 
meeting. Mr M'Lay, of Cowlairs Society, moved the subtle 
amendment that the words " employees and " be deleted. It 
would have denied the directors of the privilege which they 
shared with the employees. The same view was in the mind of 
Mr D. H. Gerrard, who was then a vigorous Co-operative 
propagandist and a member of the Scottish Section. His 
proposal was that the privilege should be exclusively confined 
to the employees ; but he went further, and sought to hmit 
the operation of the privilege to the department in which the 
employee was engaged and to hmit the amount of the purchases 
allowed to a maximum sum to be fixed by the directors and 
pubUshed in the committee minutes. Mr Clark's motion was 
carried to the great disappointment of the employees, and the 
retail trade had to be confined to Co-operative societies. The 
employees were alert, however. A number of them met, and 
it was agreed to form a Co-operative society confined to 
employees. This was done, and the society made formal 
application for admission to membership in the S.C.W.S., the 


application being granted. A fairly large warehouse was 
eventually opened in Crookston Street, and the society did a 
good business. The methods of the society differed from those 
of other societies, because the business was run on the non- 
dividend system, so that the members enjoyed almost the same 
privilege through their method of trade as they would have 
enjoyed had Mr Clark's motion not been carried. The extent 
to which the trade of the society grew, however, rather amazed 
other Glasgow societies, and the propriety of allowing these 
methods to continue was frequently and vigorously discussed. 

To recall the many interesting episodes would mean that we 
should have to relate innumerable incidents centering roimd the 
regular appearances of William Barclay and John M'Nair of 
Kinning Park, of David Glass of Perth, Henry Murphy of 
Lanark, John Welsh of St Cuthbert's, and of a host of others 
whose identity must be sunk in the collective whole. 

Much stiU Ues before the S.C.W.S. It wiU not be satisfied 
until an enormous part of the food used by the people of Scotland 
is grown by the application of Co-operative labour to Co- 
operatively-owned land. Even should land nationalisation 
come, and the Co-operative movement through its representative 
Congress has declared that it should come, proper regard will 
be shown, by any sane Government, to the needs of a body 
catering as the S.C.W.S. does for the essential wants of nearly 
half the population of Scotland. The greatest aim of the 
movement is to make its members independent of all concerns 
which simply live for profit -making ; and the enormous part 
of the food supply which is, at one stage or another, controlled 
by vested interests, appears to Co-operators to be one of the 
greatest evils in our whole economic system. In the years 
immediately to come, the S.C.W.S. will probably develop in 
the direction of producing more and more food and more and 
more of the raw materials. As has been the case in the miUing 
trade, the S.C.W.S. may be rehed upon to produce as much as 
is possible in Scotland, and when favourable opportunities in 
Scotland are not available the Society wiU regard the world as 
its oyster — ^to adopt Shakespeare's words — ^and will proceed to 
open it. There is an enormous amount of food production to 
come ; but the steps are being taken. Sugar refining is already 
within the sphere of practical politics. The growth of crops. 


as the references to the various departments* show, indicates how 
much there is to be done in the way of producing wheat, oats, tea ; 
but all cannot be done at once. Paper-making will one day 
become an important Co-operative industry ;t but there is no 
hmit to possibilities in Co-operative production. When we 
think of the hundreds of thousands of garments that are made 
and sold by the Co-operative societies of Scotland every year, 
and attempt to reckon up what is required in these garments 
but is not produced under Co-operative auspices, the possi- 
bilities are large ; for there are buttons, and cotton thread and 
hnen thread — to say nothing of the hundred and one other 
"ingredients," so to speak, which go to the making of these 
articles. The S.C.W.S. need no longer stand alone now. The 
concordat arrived at between it and the C.W.S. points clearly 
to a direct partnership between the two Wholesales with regard 
to overseas ventures, and with regard to any other enterprises 
in this country, which could not be successfully managed by one 
society alone. ■ There is the still greater possibility forced upon 
the minds of Co-operators by the war, but present there long 
before — the possibility of a great International Wholesale 
Society which would be a model of government to the whole 
world, leaving each Wholesale Society full self-determination in 
its own sphere, but combining all for the good of all in one 
grand signed and sealed treaty of Co-operative effort for the 
common good of the common people, who up till now have 
been the last persons in the world to be considered by any one 
in power. The lines upon which such an International C.W.S. 
might operate are being carefuUy considered in every country 
in Europe ; and, when once the war clouds are dissipated by 
the fresh breezes of reason, we may witness the birth of that 
great organisation which wiU be entitled to be regarded as the 
Food Ministry of the Co-operative Commonwealth. 

* See Descriptive Section. 

t A paper mill has been acquired since this chapter was written. 



What's in a name ? Despite the traditional question there is 
a good deal in a name, especially when that name is Morrison 
Street. That name conveys a great deal more to the Co-operator 
than it does to the postman. To the Co-operator it means as 
much as ' Downing Street " does to the politician. It is not 
simply a location. It is something living. It connotes a centre 
of strength and power. When a new Co-operative enterprise 
suggests itself to the Co-operative enthusiasts, their first anxiety 
is to know : What does Morrison Street think of it ? As the 
centre of Co-operative strength in Scotland therefore, " Morrison 
Street " signifies a great force ; and the Co-operator may be 
pardoned if he believes — for he believes rightly — that the 
operations of " Morrison Street " have been more consistently 
directed with a view to helping the masses of the people than 
the operations of " Downing Street." " Comparisons are 
odorous," as Mrs Malaprop would say ; but there are times 
when they are pardonable, and the comparison just made is 
privileged in a volume like this. 

If it be true — as Shakespeare thought it true — that one may 
find sermons in stones, Morrison Street viewed only as a 
thoroughfare should prove a veritable missionary crusade to 
all who are concerned with problems of economic importance. 
In Morrison Street and its offshoots there are to be found at one 
end examples of the need that many people have of economic 
and social salvation ; and at the other end there is the great 
symbol of the most effective means yet devised of bringing 
about that salvation. At one end there are the evidences and 
effects of poverty ; at the other the great monuments raised by 
people rising from poverty to comparative comfort. Traverse 
Morrison Street from east to west, and there loom up larger 
and nearer the great towers and fagades of the people's own 
valuable property as Co-operative buildings meet the eye. 
From the Paterson Street crossing to the end of Morrison Street, 
where it merges in Paisley Road, there is nothing but Co-operative 


property to be seen. Those who are away from that district 
for a time are always impressed with the changes they find when 
they retmn. Take the original part of the S.C.W.S. property 
there — ^the eastern extremity of the triangular block enclosed 
by Dundas Street, Paisley Road, and Morrison Street. There 
are Co-operators alive who, when they saw that first erected, 
declared it to be the most wonderful possession the working 
people ever had. Look, when approaching the S.C.W.S. head- 
quarters from the east ! With the exception of the dispensary 
adjoining the stationery warehouse and the tenement on the 
opposite side of the street, the whole line (on both sides) is 
business property used by the S.C.W.S. ; and the dispensary 
and the tenement are both doomed to disappear to make way 
for more buildings en suite with the rest. Look down Paterson 
Street from the stationery comer to the fruit warehouses ; 
look up Paterson Street at the dimensions of the drapery 
warehouse which now fronts Morrison Street itself ; look 
further up Paterson Street and see the array of factories and 
workshops in the distance. See the extending stationery 
warehouse itself ; the sohd, ornate building now being erected 
for the grocery departments ; the magnificent building capped 
with its beautiful statue-crowned tower. Walk slowly round 
the masses of Co-operative architecture and realise what 
commercial developments, what changed conditions of the 
people, must have warranted the erection of these stately 
buildings one by one. Yet, not so long ago, the sites of the 
stationery and drapery warehouses were occupied by villas. 
Morrison Street was a back street and Paisley Road was the 
main thoroughfare. The back gardens of the Paisley Road 
villas were in what is now Morrison Street. The gusset block, 
where the dining rooms are situated, was the British Workmen's 
Coffee House. One house adjoining the site of the present 
fruit warehouse was a lodging-house for the use of German 
emigrants while they waited the vessels for America. The site 
of the palatial premises was a fair ground, one of the most 
conspicuous features of which was " Collins' geggie." The 
Kinning Bum ran through the neighbourhood, and cows grazed 
on its banks. The site of the drapery warehouse was occupied 
by little mansion houses, and in some of these the work of the 
Wholesale was carried on. The building occupied by the 


Scottish Section of the Co-operative Union — at the corner of 
Wallace Street and Clarence Street — was typical of the district 
in the olden days ; and that particular house was " Kingston 
House," and in it the Samaritan Hospital was first located. 
Even the Kingston Dock was not always the Kingston Dock. 
At one time it was a pleasant little loch. The land now given 
over to the dock constituted part of what was known as Windmill 
Croft, a small estate owned by Alexander Oswald who died at 
Shield Hall in 1813, and whose antecedents owned Madeira 
Court and what is now called Oswald Street. They were a 
worthy family — as many Glasgow monuments indicate — and 
it is not without some significance that the principal centres 
of S.C.W.S. activity in Glasgow have been estabhshed on ground 
owned by the Oswalds who, in a different way, believed they 
were doing useful service to the community.* 

Developments in this neighbourhood are already shaping 
themselves. In a short time the whole properties bounded by 
Paterson Street, Paisley Road, and Wallace Street will be devoted 
entirely to S.C.W.S. business. It is largely so already ; but the 
new buildings now in course of erection, and the new buildings 
designed to replace the old buildings at the two comers of 
Dundas Street and Morrison Street, will make this area of 
Glasgow one of the most important business centres in the whole 
city — ^important because in these buildings the business carried 
on is for the people and under the direction of the people 
themselves. Even before now, distinguished visitors to the 
city, passing these great premises, have betrayed no little 
amazement on learning that they were the property of the 
Co-operators of Scotland. It has even been predicted that the 
Wholesale will one day lease a large part of the Kingston Dock 
for its own import trade. That is speculation ; but it also 
smacks of intelligent anticipation. 


When the palatial building which houses the central premises 
of the S.C.W.S. was completed in 1897 there were many 
indignant protests made in trading circles against the money 

* Details of the family are given more fuUy in the descriptive account 
of Shieldhall. 


of Co-operators being spent in buildings of this kind. The 
building is only second in Glasgow to the City Chambers or, as 
Continental friends would say, the Hotel de Ville, and it is a 
magnificent symbol of the aspiration of the Co-operative 
movement — to give the best to the people. The plans were 
prepared by Messrs Bruce & Hay, architects, and there were 
some misgivings about adopting the plan because of the ornate 
character of the building. It was thought that something less 
ornamental would suffice, and it was decided to dispense with 
the towers. Second thoughts prevailed, however, and the 
delegates at the quarterly meeting decided that the plans would 
be adopted in their entirety, and that the Co-operative movement 
would own the most handsome commercial building in Scotland. 
The claim estabUshed then still holds good. The building is 
not only emblematic of the aesthetic taste of the movement, 
but it is an evidence of the comprehensive powers of the 
movement. A cynical trader, ignorant of the ways of 
Co-operation, once asked the writer : "Is that building in 
Morrison Street paid off yet ? " It is only three years since 
then, and the answer given was : " Yes ! It is not only paid 
off, but it is nearly wiped off the books." In the Jubilee year 
the balance-sheet reckoned the nominal value of the building 
as £24,000, although the total expended upon the building — 
including alterations, but exclusive of the site — is about ;£i56,ooo 
up to date. The building is an evidence of the power of 
Co-operation also, because it was erected by tradesmen employed 
by the Society itself, under the superintendence of the late 
Mr James Davidson, who did all the work except the sculpture, 
the glazing, the iron work, and the marble and mosaic work. 

The building occupies nearly an acre of ground, and if we 
give a detailed description of it here it is because many 
Co-operators do not quite follow its Unes and cannot interpret 
its symbolism. The building has three sides to pubhc streets 
— Clarence Street, Crookston Street, and Morrison Street in which 
the principal front of 215 feet overlooks the Kingston Dock.* 
The design is after the French Classical Renaissance of the time 
of Louis XIV. The building occupies five storeys and a base- 
ment, and is built of stone from the quarries at Giffnock in the 
neighbourhood of the residence of the president of the Society. 

* See pages 303 and 367. 


(I) Frail Fish Department. (2) Fish Curing Department. 

(3) Finnan Kiln, 



(1) Cod Liver Oil Rendering Plant. (2) Cod Liver Oil Refining Room. 

(3) Packing and Despatch Department. 


The fa9ades of the building are rich without excess, with an 
appearance of symmetry without stiffness, and the details are 
all harmonious. 

At the main entrance, in Morrison Street, there is a double 
set of grey pohshed granite columns with Ionic capitals and 
bases, and a dado with carved panels, with Cupids face to face 
gracefully holding the hand of Unity. The pediment is finished 
by a beautiful carved shield ajid a wreath of Plenty springing 
from the valutes of the cope. The main pediment at the base 
of the tower is fiUed with emblematic sculpture in alto-relievo. 
In the centre are two figures representing Justice and Labour ; 
and, to the right and left, figures representing Africa, Asia, 
Europe, and America, surrounded by their national emblems 
all beautifully carved. On the apex of the pediment stands 
the " tower-crowned Cybele " — whom the ancients regarded as 
the goddess of the earth — ^with Uons on her right and left, 
symbolising Strength and a power that fears no difficulties. 
Behind the figure rises the tower, 70 feet high, divided into 
bays by Ionic columns, between which are niches and pedimented 
windows, and over it a modillioned cornice and a dado, inter- 
spersed with balusters, copes, vases, and eyelet windows, and 
surmounted by a graceful figure representing Light and Liberty, 
holding in her hand a torch, the guidingf Star of the West. It 
was with some comprehension of the beauty that was in danger 
that Co-operators flocked to the neighbourhood when the great 
fire involved their magnificent building on 3rd September 1911. 
Till the early hours of the following morning the writer stood 
with a group of reporters, aU of whom were reluctant to leave 
tiU the figure would fall — the emblematic figure of Light and 
Liberty. It swerved slightly in the torturing heat ; its supports 
were softened and bent ; it was thrown forward ; but the 
symbol of Light and Liberty held on grimly to the lofty pedestal 
upon which working men and women had placed it. Could 
symbolism be more complete ? 

Entrance to the building is obtained by an ornamental 
wrought-iron gate in the Morrison Street fagade — a fagade 
which measures 150 feet to the head of the tower. The floor of 
the spacious vestibule is laid with mosaic, and the walls lined 
and richly panelled with Sicilian marble and Parisian cement, 
and divided into bays by quarter pilasters and Ionic columns 


supporting a modillioned and enriched frieze and cornice. 
Beyond the vestibule is a large entrance hall and staircase, and 
right and left from it corridors lead to the boardroom, hbrary, 
committee rooms, buyers' rooms, and grocery saleroom. On 
the entresol facing the vestibule is a bronzed bust of Robert 

The boardroom is elegantly furnished throughout. The 
floor is done with parquetry, in walnut, oak, plane-tree, and 
pine ; and the walls are divided into bays with mabogany 
fluted and carved pilasters, having Corinthian capitals and 
bases, and resting on a mahogany panelled and moulded dado 
supporting an enriched frieze and cornice. The ceiling is 
beautifully decorated with Louis XIV. ornaments, with specially 
prepared casts having centres for electric Ught. A special 
feature is the Caen stone mantelpiece, 12 feet high, carved with 
natural foUage and supported with SiciUan marble and alabaster 
columns, capitals, and bases. The hbrary is a beautifully 
appointed room, only equipped and furnished for this piurpose 
a few years ago. The furniture is some that earned the 
Society's own cabinet factory high commendation at one of 
the Glasgow Exhibitions. The saleroom, which is crowded 
with eager buyers — on Tuesdays and Fridays especially — is one 
of the most handsomely equipped salerooms in Great Britain. 
The showcases of mahogany, with mirror backs and unique 
electric-Ughting arrangements, are magnificent specimens of 
the skill of the employees at the cabinet factory ; while the 
exhibits they contain demonstrate that the S.C.W.S. productive 
works have nothing to learn in the artistic make up of goods. 
The committee rooms and the buyers' rooms are all well but 
modestly furnished. 

The first floor is given over to the accountant, the cashier, 
and the auditors, and an army of clerks, with weU-Ughted and 
well-ventnated of&ce accommodation, private rooms, and strong- 
rooms and safes. On this floor is situated the telephone exchange, 
which employs an expert staff whose chief duty is to connect 
callers with the officials or departments they want. It is 
probably one of the largest private telephone exchanges in the 
busy city. This floor constitutes the heart of the great business 
concerns of the Co-operative movement in Scotland. All the 
intromissions involved in the Society's trade of 19J millions— 


from the purchase of a new stool for the office on the Gold 
Coast to the investment of a quarter of a miUion — are known and 
registered here by the head office clerical staff to whom the 
information is conveyed by the departmental clerks whether 
in Glasgow or West Africa or Canada. That stafi comprised 
in the Jubilee year — and before demobilisation — 214 female 
clerks and 131 male clerks, in the appointment of all of whom 
the great chief, Mr Macintosh, has been consulted. The " head 
office " has been aptly described as " the great nerve centre " 
of the Wholesale. Some derisive things have been said of 
" the woman in the counting-house " ; but the record of the 
clerks employed in what is known as the " ladies' office " at 
Morrison Street evokes nothing but commendation for attendance, 
punctuality, and efficiency, and that somewhat rarer virtue — 
civihty. At the central premises probably about 1,500 letters 
per day arrive by post. The letters are handled by a special 
corps of clerks, who sort and open the packets and stamp the 
contents, each dehvery being stamped with the date and 
distinguishing letter so that in any subsequent complciint the 
office can tell not only the date of receipt, but the particular 
dehvery which brought the communication. There is no office 
in which better order is maintained in the routine duties of 
the staff, or in which records are kept longer or with greater 
exactness or accuracy. 

The upper floors of the building are devoted chiefly to business 
conducted as part of the furniture department, and other parts 
of the building are devoted to the grocery business. These are 
dealt with in their respective places in this descriptive portion 
of the volume. 

In all parts of the building there are the most improved 
facilities for the dehvery and dispatch of goods. There are 
fire-proof stairs at the extreme points of the premises and one 
passenger hft. In the basement there are engines and 
accumulators and dynamos in connection with the passenger 
and goods elevators and plant for the hghting and heating of 
the building. For insurance purposes the building has been 
divided into two sections by a strong party wall, and has 
communication on each floor by double iron doors ; and the 
entire premises have been equipped with the latest form of 
sprinkler fire extinguishers. There are remarkable strong 


rooms and safes for the protection of valuables, books, and 
papers, and the internal fittings are all of the most ornate 
character as befits a building so imposing. 


The Wholesale's grocery and provision trade is distributed 
over the Glasgow, Leith, and Dundee departments in the 
financial reports. Formerly Kilmarnock was also shown 
separately, but recently the sales from the Kilmarnock depot 
are passed through the Glasgow warehouse accounts. The 
Glasgow, Leith, and Dundee centres have their own " spheres 
of influence," and trade done by S.C.W.S. departments with 
societies in any part of Scotland is shown in the accounts for 
the centre to which that society's area is allocated. The 
grocery department is further sub-divided for convenience and 
efficiency and for the closer scrutiny of the Wholesale's 
operations. What is generally described as the " Glasgow 
Grocery " comprises about seventy departments, or sub- 
departments. Each of these is under its own head. That 
head, in most cases, is responsible to a higher of&cial ; and, 
apart from specialised departments, the majority of the 
distributive departments of the Glasgow grocery are classified 
in four groups, with regard to each of which comprehensive 
reports are submitted to the directors by an official chiefly 
responsible directly to the board. Similar sub-divisions are 
found at Leith, but the departments are not so numerous and 
all are arranged in three groups. No. i, for example, comprises 
butter, cheese, sugar, syrup and treacle, tea, coffee, cocoa and 
chocolate, etc. No. 2 deals with dried fruit, tinned fruit, green 
fruit, fish, soap, aerated waters, preserves and confections, etc. 
No. 3 takes hams and bacon, lard, fats, oils, tinned meat and 
tinned fish, cereals, feeding-stuffs, margarine, etc. At Dundee 
and Kilmarnock, while there are departmental divisions, they 
are fewer in number. 

The extent of the grocery and provision trade may be stated 
in figures, but we fear the figures convey very Uttle to the 
man-in-the-street. If we were to teU him that the S.C.W.S., 
in six months alone, sold 25,o8i| tons of sugar, that its sales 
of tea in a like period' amounted to 1,747! tons, that its butter 


■sales accounted for 81,574 firkins and 4,264 tons, that the 
margarine sold weighed 2,355! tons, and the flour sold amounted 
to half a miUion bags of 280 lbs. each, we fear he could not fully 
comprehend the immense quantities disposed of ; yet each of 
these totals is included in a half-year's trade. In a booklet 
pubhshed for distribution at the Glasgow Exhibition in 1911 
there were some illustrations that were helpful. One of these 
showed that the butter sold in 1910 would fill a cask wider 
than the roadway of the Jamaica Bridge, Glasgow, and over 
100 feet high. It showed that the tea sold in 1910 would fitU 
a case as wide as Morrison Street, almost the entire length of 
the S.C.W.S. central premises, and fifty feet high. The tea 
sold in 1918 was fifty per cent, more than that. In 1918 the 
total sales in the goods under the control of the grocery 
committee of the directorate amounted to £13,977,452, 7s. gd., 
to be exact. These figures comprise all the grocery departments. 
Up tUl the end of June that year — to the end of the quarter 
-which preceded the completion of the fiftieth year — the total 
net sales through each of the grocery branches were Glasgow, 
;fii3,059,07i, OS. 2d. ; Leith, £41,542,246, 19s. 8d. ; Kilmarnock, 
£3,790.236, 8s. iid. ; Dundee, £5,178.953. 14s. 6d.— a grand 
total of £157,580,508, 3s. 3d. This, in groceries and provisions, 
represents a wonderful turnover for a business originated and 
■directed by people of the most slender financial resources. 

The chief grocery centre is at 95 Morrison Street. A con- 
siderable part of the central block, bounded by Morrison Street, 
Crookston Street, and Clarence Street, and extending almost 
to Wallace Street, is given over to the grocery business. 
Probably before this volume gets to the hands of the reader 
the grocery centre wiU be transferred to the palatial building 
nearing completion, which fronts to Morrison Street at the 
corner of Clarence Street. The whole property in that block 
between Morrison Street, Clarence Street, Wallace Street, and 
Dundas Street is S.C.W.S. property. The portion between 
Wallace Street and the lane which runs between (and parallel 
to) Wallace Street and Morrison Street is already utilised for 
storage and dispatch ; the corner portion at Morrison Street 
and Dundas Street, where the insurance department has its 
temporary office, cannot be converted for the present owing 
to lease rights of the principal tenants ; but the other portion 


will be utilised for the grocery department, and will thus make 
a splendid centre. Besides these blocks, some of the Glasgow 
grocery departments — eggs and green fruit — find accommodation 
in the buildings behind the stationery warehouse at the corner 
of Dundas Street and Paisley Road ; some other departments 
are housed in the gusset buildings between Morrison Street and 
Paisley Road ; and the potato department occupies temporary 
premises in the old buildings at the comer of Dundas Street 
and Morrison Street, which will eventually be demolished to 
complete the drapery warehouse. 

In the central premises (on the right), in the corridors 
stretching from the entrance hall, are the private rooms of 
Mr W. F. Stewart, the commercial manager of the flour and 
meal mills, and Mr Duncan, the cattle and meat buyer ; while 
on the left are the private rooms of the heads of the other chief 
grocery departments. There sit the men whose chief fimction 
it is to keep the Co-operators of the West and South and 
Midlands of Scotland provided with food. Mr Ebenezer Ross 
is the veteran of the grocery department, and when it is 
mentioned that he is responsible for tea, coffee, cocoa, chocolate,* 
butter, and sugar, the reader will surmise that he has had 
troubles in plenty during the war period. The S.C.W.S. enjoyed 
an excellent reputation for its butter supplies tiU the war upset 
everybody's arrangements ; but if the Co-operators complained 
during the war about their butter rations, all they had to say 
was that they were not supplied so plentifully or so cheaply 
as before the war — ^in which respect they were no worse off 
than anybody and better off than most. In 1891 Mr Ross was 
sent to Denmark and to Finland in search of sources of supply. 
The result of that was the estabUshment of the Aarhus branch 
which, acting jointly for the English and Scottish Wholesale 
Societies, has given the two federations plentiful suppUes of 
butter noted for its undoubted excellence. There were no 
S.C.W.S. creameries then, but seven years later EnniskiUenf 
began to supply its own excellent products, which are not 
second even to the best Danish. In 1900 Mr Ross gave evidence 
before the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the 
subject of Butter Supply. 

* See page 425. 

t See Creameries and Milk Centres, page 352. 


The Wholesale bought all its sugar from brokers till March 
1878. Then it began to buy direct from Greenock refiners. 
The question of acquiring a sugar refinery has been considered 
from time to time as a purely Scottish venture, and consideration 
has also been given to the prospect of establishing a sugar 
refining business in conjunction with the EngUsh Wholesale 
Society, and in one form or another a plan will probably be 
carried out before very long. 

Associated with Mr Ross in Glasgow as responsible heads 
of the chief groups of grocery departments are Mr Malcolm 
M'CaHum, Mr John M'Donald, and Mr A. S. Huggan. It is 
not possible to follow the various commodities dealt with in 
detail, but a reference may be made to some of them which are 
not dealt with under special headings in subsequent pages. 

Eggs, which, it is said, were invented for the benefit of 
husbands who have to cook for themselves when their wives 
are on holiday, constitute a large part of the S.C.W.S. trade. 
One of the chief sources of supply is EnniskiQen. From the 
Enniskillen centre employees of the S.C.W.S. attend the fairs 
and markets for mUes round, and have estabUshed their own 
extensive system of Irish egg collection. On a recent visit to 
Enniskillen we passed through two great haUs with obscured 
windows and air-tight doors, and with a decidedly cold 
atmosphere, where between two miUion and three miUion eggs 
lay in pickle. These were collected about March when eggs 
were plentiful, and preserved for the winter when the poultry 
are not so industrious. Thanks to the efficacy of the pickling 
system, the eggs are as healthy when they reach the table as 
when they are deposited in the pickle tanks, each of which 
holds about 80,000 eggs. Before being sent out for use each 
egg is tested, and those sent out from Enniskillen have a high 
reputation for quahty. Loads of fresh eggs are, of course, sent 
off to Scotland without being pickled, and in one year 
Enniskillen has handled as many as 34J miUion eggs. Ireland, 
however, does not exhaust the Wholesale's sources of supply. 
Denmark, Canada and the United States, and Russia were large 
suppliers formerly. The war cut off the Russian supplies and 
brought Egyptian eggs into the homes of the Co-operators, 
and hquid eggs also made a useful departure which helped to 
tide people over a trying time. When the state of Europe 


pennitted, the Wholesale's buyers made periodical visits to the 
countries most likely to meet the growing demand of the 
Co-operative societies for eggs. Egg testing is also a fairly big 
undertaking in the Wholesale's business, and thousands of 
cases — chiefly of foreign origin — are scrupulously tested. 

Dried fruit, green fruit, and tinned fruit sold by the 
Wholesale run into hundreds of thousands of pounds per 
annum. Buyers and directors have regularly journeyed to the 
Orient in order to secure the best dried fruits for the use of 
Co-operators, both in their own homes and in their bakeries, 
and their direct purchases and direct shipments of currants, 
sultanas, muscatels, and other dried fruits (ventures in which 
the EngUsh and Scottish Wholesales combined) ensured 
excellent quahties at the most advantageous prices. For 
many years the dried fruit shows and sales at Glasgow and 
Leith were interesting events eagerly looked forward to by the 
managers, salesmen, and directors of Co-operative societies. 
Peace in the Balkans may perhaps lead to the revival of these 
gatherings. Canned fruits have also been imported direct in 
large quantities as the result of explorations made by the 
Wholesale buyers. The green fruit trade is also extensive. 
Soft fruits are grown to some extent on the Society's own 
estate at Calderwood,* but the quantities required are so 
enormous that Calderwood is not large enough to grow them. 
Large quantities are bought direct from the growers, and during 
the season the huge motor lorries of the S.C.W.S. are seen at 
dfiybreak carrying the crops from the Clydeside gardens to the 
Co-operative stores in Lanarkshire, Glasgow, Renfrewshire, 
and Dumbartonshire. Rhubarb, oranges, apples, bananas, 
grapes, tomatoes, and onions are gathered from almost all 
parts of the earth, where they are grown, by direct import and, 
as in the case of the dried fruits, by the enterprise of buyers 
sent direct to the chief sources of these articles ; for the 
S.C.W.S. has not only to supply Co-operators with these fruits, 
it has its own extensive preserve works to keep supplied with 
raw materials. 

The grocery departments reflect many changes that have 
been effected in the people's food standards during the war. 
In margarine, t for instance, the sales prior to the war represented 

*See pages 181, 422. f S.C.W.S. products have increased 10%, see page 356. 


an output of 1,054 tons ; but before the Armistice the sales had 
^one up to nearly four times that amount. In canned meats 
and canned fish, also, the pre-war sales might be stated as 
31,580 cases, while for 1918 they reached something Uke 65,000 

The potato department is one which shows wonderful 
■organisation. The organisation of this department was planned 
and effected during many years of labour by Mr John Macintyre 
Avho, for the greater part of his life, was one of the stalwarts of 
Co-operation in the Vale of Leven. The Wholesale, like other 
big potato merchants, had to derive its supplies partly from 
abroad, the Canary Isles and the Channel Isles being very 
largely tapped for early potatoes. In addition to this, Mr 
Macintyre inaugurated the practice of buying fields of potatoes 
in all parts of the country before the popular tubers were ripe. 
The harvesting was done by a large number of Irish field workers 
accustomed to come to Scotland for the season. The Wholesale 
■did not depend upon chance ; and Mr Macintyre picked his 
workers in Ireland — chiefly from the Donegal district — and 
these were sent for when the first S.C.W.S. fields were ready for 
lifting. In this way only reliable workers were engaged, and, 
thanks to the care devoted to the provision of housing accom- 
modation, the Wholesale's potato harvesting operations were 
carried through with an absence of the scandals attendant upon 
such operations where the field workers employed were casuals 
picked up on the roadside and kept together in primitive 
promiscuity. The Wholesale had the same workers coming year 
after year ; they began their labours where the earliest crops 
were ready — usually about the southern Ayrshire coast, where 
the climate, mellowed by the Gulf Stream, usually produced the 
earliest British potatoes. On Mr Macintyre's death, Mr Hugh 
Campbell, who had been the Society's potato salesman at Leith, 
was appointed manager of the department, and further develop- 
ments were noted. One of the most important innovations of 
recent years has been the leasing of land for the planting of 
potatoes. In 1914 the Society planted 3,157 acres ; and potatoes 
are grown for the Society on the Springside Estate, purchased in 
1917. The sale of potatoes is conducted through the various 
S.C.W.S. grocery centres ; and in 1918 the amount sold was 
50,225 tons. The department was warmly complimented by 


buyers for retail societies upon the splendid supplies it was able 
to secure during the most trying years in the war period. 

We may include the cattle and meat trade under the heading- 
of the grocery departments of the Society, for these are super- 
vised by the grocery committee of the board. Due tribute has. 
been paid to the services rendered by this department to the 
Co-operators of Scotland during the most critical periods of 
the Butchers' Boycott.* To have conducted this trade for 
the Wholesale Society in the face of the virulent and unscrupulous 
opposition to which the Wholesale had been subjected during 
all the years since 1896 is evidence of admirable organisation 
and of the credit of the S.C.W.S. The department began in 
1888, and the present buyer, Mr William Duncan, has been at 
its head from the beginning. At first, the S.C.W.S. simply 
bought cattle for the societies on a commission basis ; but there 
were suggestions from various quarters in favour of the stocking 
of cattle. Mr Maxwell, who was chairman of the directorate 
at the time, warned the societies that to adopt this suggestion 
would mean that the Wholesale would probably have to stock 
10,000 head. That was not thought desirable. In 1892, 
however, the Wholesale leased a grazing farm in Stirlingshire, 
Carbrook Mains, where cattle bought by the Society were fed 
until required. The lease expired in 1901, and there were 
reasons for not renewing it — ^reasons which deprived the 
experiment of success. In 1901, another farm was leased at 
Carntyne, near Glasgow, for the same purpose. In 1903, an 
expert buyer was appointed in Ireland to secure supplies of 
Irish cattle "to be bought at first hand and forwarded to the 
retail societies without the intervention of a single inter- 
mediary," to quote Mr Maxwell. The embargo placed upon 
the importation of Canadian cattle was vigorously fought 
against by the S.C.W.S. and the whole of the societies in the 
Co-operative Union ;t but the agitation was fruitless. 

The war had a serious effect upon the cattle and meat trade. 
Meat to the value of 33 millions was imported into the country 
in 1914 ; and it is easy to understand how that trade would 
be affected by the submarine danger ; and the governments 
of the AUied nations had the first call upon meat supplies for 
the enormous armies mobilised during the period of the war. 

* See page 156. t See page 157. 


The S.C.W.S. department had sales amounting to £273,334 
in December — a figure which would be enormously greater but 
for the fact that societies in country districts bought cattle and 
beef very largely as local produce. The war brought the price 
of beef up to a level it had not reached in this country since the 
Franco-Prussian war ; that reduced the demand considerably, 
and the demand was stiU more seriously affected by the strict 
Rationing Orders enforced by the Government during a large 
part of the war period ; but the sales of the S.C.W.S. during 
1918 amounted to £554,739, and even that was a decrease 
(through rationing) of £63,994 from the previous year's trade. 

Poultry are collected at EnnisMllen and dealt with by the 
grocery departments ; but it is impossible to go into details 
of aU the ramifications of these departments. Evidence of the 
importance of the grocery departments is afforded on the buying 
days — chiefly Tuesday and Friday in Glasgow, and Tuesday at 
the other centres. On these days the beautifully appointed 
salerooms at these warehouses attract the grocery buyers of 
the Co-operative societies of Scotland who enter the portals of 
the S.C.W.S. premises, knowing that those premises are the 
property of their societies, and that the business conducted 
there is conducted for the benefit of, and at the behest of, the 
working people who constitute the mass of the membership of 
the Co-operative distributive society in city and village ahke. 

The grocery dispatch department at Glasgow is separately 
organised, and had a staff of 135 employees before some of them 
were mobiEsed for mQitary service. The department deals, 
among other things, with shipments arriving for the Wholesale, 
and the extent of the operations carried on may be conceived 
when it is mentioned that in 1918 the department handled 
57,767 loads of goods, comprising 2,394,476 packages, equal to 
106,461 tons ; and even this was an average weekly decrease of 
349 packages. 


While the headquarters and central premises of the Wholesale 
Society are at Morrison Street, Glasgow, for many commodities 
the Leith branch of the Wholesale is to all intents and purposes 
the marketing centre for societies in the East of Scotland. The 
buyers from societies in the East go there to sample goods, to 


make inquiries, and to do what the buyers from the West of 
Scotland do at Glasgow. 

How the branch came to be established has been told in the 
Historical Section;* but since then, 1877, developments and 
extensions have taken place which make the Wholesale premises 
one of the most attractive buildings in Leith, not only because 
of the comeliness of the building, but also on account of its 
excellent site. The Links of Leith in front, with its broad 
expanse of well-tended spaces, sets off the imposing pile of 
Co-operative buildings which stand on the eastern fringe of the 
people's playground. The architecture follows the stately hues 
so characteristic of Wholesale buildings, and the massive, artistic 
front attracts attention. The dilapidations of the adjoining 
ground no doubt detract a little from the general appearance, 
but the S.C.W.S. will soon remove that when building restrictions 
make it possible for the directors to set impending extensions 
in process. Plans already devised will mean an outlay of about 
;£8o,ooo upon the proposed extension. 

The front portion of the building, or the original part, 
consists of five fiats and a large beisement store ; while the newer 
building in the rear has an extra storey and a large attic, which 
has been the scene of fruit shows, baking competitions, and 
other seasonable displays. The various departments, although 
congested as a result of the extraordinary developments of the 
trade, are very extensive. 

The main entrance leads into a vestibule, off which are 
several private offices, including the sanctum of Mr Robertson, 
the manager. At the side is the saleroom where buyers assemble ; 
and the main stairway leads to the commodious and well- 
appointed genered offices and boardroom. Immediately above 
are the dining and smoke rooms and the kitchen ; and still 
higher is the stationery .department.! 

The manufacture of aerated waters is carried 6n on the 
ground floor of the extensive establishment ; and ham-curing 
is conducted on the top floor. A number of tradesmen — 
engineers, electricians, and joiners — are employed here ; for, 
besides the usual structural work required from time to time, 
the society generates electricity in the premises. Otherwise 
there are no productive works at this branch. 

''See pages 103 et seq. t See page 333. 


The main distributive departments are confined to the rear 
buildings. There are green fruit and egg departments on the 
ground floor ; cheese and general grocery and sundry stores 
on the first floor ; tinned meats, fruits, and dried fruits on the 
second floor ; and the remaining floors are used chiefly for the 
storage of cereals and sugar. There is also machinery for 
grinding sugar and for cleaning the dried fruits. All the depart- 
ments are linked up by numerous stairways and elevators, and 
the latest equipment for deaUng with outbreaks of fire is 
installed. At the Society's jubilee, 174 persons were employed 
at the branch ; and, of these, 38 were girls. 

To Mr W. F. Stewart belongs the honour of being the first 
manager of the Leith branch, besides being one of the most 
eager advocates of its establishment. He held his post there 
from 1877, when the trade of the branch was only £30,984, till 
he was transferred to Chancelot mill on its opening in 1894. In 
1894 the sales from the branch were £706,466. Mr Peter 
Robertson, the present manager, succeeded Mr Stewart, but he 
had been in the service of the society since 1887. It was Mr 
Robertson's lot to see large extensions, and he may be spared 
to see the now contemplated extensions carried out. In 1913 
the sales from Leith had reached £1,656,767 ; but for the 
society's fiftieth year the Leith trade amounted to £2,801,378. 


A CHAPTER in the Historical Section records the inauguration of 
the Kihnamock Branch of the Wholesale.* The departure was 
made in order to provide a depot for the collection of the 
agricultural produce of Ayrshire ; but its sphere of operations 
was extended, it sought its suppUes in adjoining counties, and 
began to sell direct to societies in the district whose buyers 
found it more convenient to go to Kilmarnock than to go to 
Glasgow. That has changed somewhat, and a number of buyers 
from Ajnrshire and the South- West now travel more regularly 
to the Glasgow central warehouse ; and the sales made through 
the Kilmarnock branch are credited to the various Glasgow 

* See page 105 et seq. 


The Kilmarnock premises are situated in Grange Place, 
Woodstock Street, and Fullarton Street ; and represent an 
expenditure of about £22,000. Cheese, butter, eggs, bacon, 
and oatmeal are the chief articles in which the branch deals. 
Potatoes used to be an important branch of the Kilmarnock 
business ; but the potato department is separately organised 
now.* Bacon curing is carried on also. The sales from the 
Kilmarnock branch were separately recorded for the first time 
in 1882, when for six months they amounted to £15,443. In 
the intervening years since then they have fluctuated slightly ; 
but the trend has always been vigorously upwards, despite an 
occasional decrease in comparison with a preceding year. For 
1914 the total recorded amounted to £145,803 ; and for the 
last twelve months (till June 1918), for which the sales were 
separately credited, they amounted to £274,819. These figures 
represent only the sales direct to retail societies ; but, in addition 
to these sales, the branch transferred goods to the Glasgow, 
Leith, and Dundee branches amounting in these respective 
years to £167,788 and £333.615. The total sales to societies, 
from the keeping of a separate Kilmarnock account tiU the 
end of June in the jubilee year, amounted to £3,790,236 ; the 
expenses incurred amounted only to 4'57d. per £ of sales, and 
the net profit, averaged over all these years, was equal to 
7-42d. per £. As indicating the nature of the operations carried 
on between Kilmarnock and the Wholesale's other departments, 
it may be mentioned that one year's handling of agricultural 
produce included 66,844 cheese, 13,683 pigs, 2,302 'sacks of 
oatmeal, 1,649 cwt. of fresh butter, and 235,037 dozens of 
country eggs. 

The Co-operators of the North of Scotland were seriously 
handicapped in comparison with Co-operators elsewhere because 
they were so remote from the S.C.W.S. centres. Some of the 
oldest societies in the country were in the North of Scotland ; 
but they were not members of the Wholesale because, with 
wholesale warehouses nearer at hand, they did not see what 
particular advantage was to be gained from a Wholesale ware- 
house in Glasgow or Edmburgh, and so Co-operative societies 

* See page 313. 


there dealt with private merchants because it was thought to 
be more convenient. It was because they recognised that 
there was a good field to be cultivated for Co-operation that 
the S.C.W.S. directors decided to plant a branch in Dundee.* 
This branch, unUke the establishments at Leith and KUmamock, 
was not forced upon the directors by the Co-operators of the 
district ; it was simply the outcome of the desire of the directors 
to bring the Co-operators of the North inside the Wholesale 
fold, and the branch was, therefore, something like a mission 

Premises were leased, in Trade Lane, and the business was 
commenced in 1882. The warehouse was in close proximity 
to a whisky store, and the Wholesale paid the penalty of its 
evil association, for in 1906 a fire, rendered particularly 
disastrous by the inflammable nature of the " hot stuff," 
destroyed the building completely. Temporary premises were 
secured in which the business was carried on, but a site was 
purchased, and on this was erected the present substantial and 
modern warehouse. 

The new building was formally opened on 3rd July 1909 at 
a well-attended gathering, at which Bailie Isaac M'Donald 
presided. The opening ceremony was performed by Bailie 
Henry Murphy, and stirring addresses were deUvered by these 
gentlemen, as weU as by Mr Robert Stewart, Mr John Clark, of 
Perth, and Mr John Barrowman, the manager and pilot of the 
Wholesale enterprise in Dundee. 

The warehouse is built on a site which covers 810 square 
yards, with frontages to Sugarhouse W3md, Seagate, and Queen 
Street. The chief frontage is towards Seagate, along which it 
extends about 100 feet, and this is designed in a simple form 
of the Renaissance style of architecture. The centre portion, 
which has rustic work to the height of the first floor, is finished 
at the top with a stone pediment and panel. The building is 
in two portions. The back portion, a one-storeyed building, 
is utilised for receiving and dispatching goods, and vehicles 
have access from both Sugarhouse Wynd and Queen Street to 
the spacious loading docks. The front portion has four storeys 
and a basement, and at each end of this portion are electric 
hoists and a stone staircase communicating with the various 

* See page 111. 


floors. The total floorage is about 18,000 square feet. The- 
front entrance is in Seagate, where an arched doorway and tiled 
vestibule give access to the warehouse and to the offices which, 
are situated on the street floor. The erection of the .building 
was under the direct supervision of the Society's own master of 
works, the late Mr James Davidson. 

Mr Barrowman* did heroic work here till his retirement, 
when he was succeeded by Mr James Wilkie, his assistant. 
The first year's operations at Dundee amounted to ;£ 13,508 ; 
but they gradually increased in value tUl in 1914 they reached 
the total of £228,171, which amount was increased to £377,541 
in the jubilee year. Up till June of that year the total net sales 
of the branch, from its inception, amounted to £5,178,953, 
achieved at an average of 27d. per £ for working expenses, and 
yielding net profits of 7'23d. per £. The branch has still a 
weary row to hoe ; but it has done even better than was 
expected by many ; it has increased the membership of the 
Wholesale, among Northern societies, and helped to increase the 
membership of these societies in turn by helping to make the 
wages of the worker go a Uttle further. 


The drapery warehouse in Glasgow, whether it be viewed from 
the south or from the north, is a splendid structure of which 
Co-operators are wonderfully proud. They are more proud of 
what the warehouse represents, for it stands as the centre of 
a grand alliance of three spinning and weaving mUls, twelve 
factories, and a combination of nearly sixty departments all 
engaged in occupations connected with the production and 
distribution of drapery and kindred goods, and recording total 
sales amounting to £3,231,236 for the year 1918. The 
warehouse, bounded by Morrison Street, Dundas Street, Wallace 
Street, and Paterson Street, has about six and a half acres of 
floor space. At present the comer building at Morrison Street 
and Dundas Street is not part of the warehouse, although it 
is Wholesale property; but, as is hinted in the notes on 
" Morrison Street," it soon will be. The present warehouse 
represents a co-ordination of a group of warehouses which were 
* See pages 109, 111, 112. 




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0) Ettrick Mills, Selkirk. (2) Taybank Jute Works, Dundee, 

(3) Ayrshire Blanket Mills, Galston. 


built at different times as the progressing departments required 
elbow-room ; but there is still a unity as well as a variegation 
in the architectural lines followed. 

When the first part of the building was erected in 1887, at 
the comer of Dundas Street and Wallace Street — a relic of 
which period is seen in the now un-utihsed door at that comer 
— ^the drapery warehouse comprised also the boot and shoe, 
furniture, and stationery showrooms. A few years later the 
warehouse was extended to Paterson Street, this extension 
providing the imposing fa9ade in Wallace Street; and an 
entrance at the comer of Paterson Street harmonised with that 
at the comer of Dundas Street. In 1909 a considerable addition 
was made by the erection of a wing in Paterson Street. There 
was, however, one serious handicap. Internal communication 
was not possible, for these various additions practically con- 
stituted separate warehouses. It was decided to alter the 
internal arrangements, and in 1910 this alteration was 
completed, creating a new main entrance in Wallace Street 
(where the old goods outlet was) and providing a new main 
staircase which gave access to , all the departments of the 
warehouse. In September 1914 there was a further addition 
to the warehouse by the extension of the Paterson Street Aving, 
and in 1918 the last addition made converted the drapery 
warehouse into a Morrison Street property. 

The Wallace Street fagade — ^which some still think the more 
ornate aspect of the warehouse — ^has a frontage of 214 feet. 
The building in Dundas Street has an extent of 152 feet ; in 
Paterson Street it extends to 210 feet ; and while there will 
be a frontage of 214 feet to Morrison Street when the block is 
completed, at the end of the jubilee year it only extended to 
about 180 feet. In Wallace Street — the old front — the faQade 
is chiefly characterised by the handsome doorway, surmounted 
by a richly sculptured pediment, leading to a noble vestibule 
and entrance hall lined with mahogany and marble. The 
central feature is the graceful tower, which rises to a height of 
130 feet ; at each end of this elevation is a circular turret which 
completes the symmetry of the The turrets complete 
comers of the structure, which rise to graceful pediments resting 
each upon four sets of twin columns with sculptured capitals, 
which in tum are based upon omamental pilasters. The 


Morrison Street elevation varies in style, but its stately pro- 
portions will not be so clearly recognised till the whole of the 
elevation is completed to Dundas Street. There is a splendid 
arched doorway ; the centre of this elevation is also dominated 
by a tower ; and the building impresses passers-by. The front 
entrance here gives access to a spacious haU, from which open 
the private rooms of the manager and his assistants. Sde and 
show rooms, stock rooms, special fitting departments, receiving 
and dispatch departments, a retail societies' customers' 
department, office, and a tearoom are included in the warehouse. 

Under the aegis of the drapery department there is run a 
waste department. It came into being about 1900, and its 
operations are specially interesting. Most people have an 
impression of what a tailoring department floor is hke at the 
end of each day's work. Rags, scraps of canvas, bits of linen 
and cotton, cuttings of tweed and serge, seem to litter the floors. 
Shirt and dressmaking workrooms are Uttle better. Drapery 
departments — ^where hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of parcels 
are being dispatched or received in a day — present a mass of 
broken twine and rope and sheaves of waste wrapping paper. 
Then there is the litter of waste paper from the other warehouses 
and offices. The collection of all this mass of rubbish is 
admirably organised by the waste department, which converts it 
into the medium which goes to help up the Wholesale dividend. 

There is no saying where the rubbish may get to — ^we know 
what it is, but we know not what it may be, or to what sacred 
or profane uses it may be put ; but there seems to be a market 
for everything. Yorkshiremen get some of it to Dewsbury 
and Batley. They say the finest rags they get are cuttings 
from Ettrick mill serges. The women who work at the rags 
here could distinguish the Ettrick mill cloth from other makes 
— ^by the fine feel of the Co-operative production. Paper and 
cotton rags go to the paper-makers ; and everything has an 
immediate destination known to the waste department. The 
department, which puts tons of "rubbish" through its processes, 
had sales to the amount of £2,900 in 1908. That was considered 
good then, but in 1918 the turnover reached £8,700.* 

* The mantle factory is housed in this building. For description, see 
"The Clothing Factories," page 379. See also "Shirts, Hosiery, and 
Underclothing," page 382 ; and " Other Glasgow Centres," pa^ 34S. 


When the drapery department began in 1873 there were 
three employees, of whom the only survivor is Mr David 
Gardiner, J.P., the general manager, who, however, was shortly 
afterwards joined by Mr George Davidson, who was still in the 
service at the time of the jubilee celebrations. At the end of 
1918 there were 425 employees in the department, and 204 on 
miUtary or naval service. 

The trade of the drapery department comprises only drapery 
and kindred trades, and its operations, therefore, must be con- 
sidered in that light in view of the fact that so many wholesale 
drapery estabhshments include boots and shoes, jewellery, 
furniture, and furnishings. The opening of the various additions 
to the warehouse always gave rise to special celebrations, and 
the annual spring, autumn, and special shows of millinery, 
mantles, and other goods which vary with the seasons always 
attract large attendances of buyers and directors from societies, 
who meet at dinner and exchange views about the business and 
its management. We have had the good fortune to attend 
about thirty of such assemblies, and there has never once been 
any comment offered that was not to the credit of Mr Gardiner 
and his assistants. 

In connection with the department there is a London office 
and depot, where the latest London and Continental goods are 
shown periodically, where inquiries are conducted as to the 
development of the trade, and where the interests of Scottish 
societies are looked after. Thousands of transactions are 
carried through there on behalf of the department. When the 
war broke out the sales of the drapery department amounted to 
£1,387,027, and the jubilee year brought a grand total of 
£3,231,236, which represented i6'8 per cent, of the total sales 
made by the S.C.W.S. The manager of the department, on the 
many occasions when he is congratulated on the magnificent 
figures he records, always pays tribute to the assistant managers, 
Messrs James M'Gilchrist and William AUan, both old servants 
of the Society, and to the buyers for retail societies. He never 
tires of commending the hearty Co-operation given by the 
departmental heads and by the staff as a whole. Lest, however, 
the retail societies might flatter themselves on doing too well, 
he usually reduces the trade to what it represents per member 
of the societies with which his trade is done. Worked down in 


detail like that for 1918, it represented £5 per member, or 
slightly less than 2/ per week for clothes, hosiery, napery, 
millinery, bed clothes, collars, gloves, and the hundred and one 
articles which the average member requires for the family and 
household over which he or she presides. 


The representatives of the co-operative societies in Scotland 
have no reason to complain of the excellent opportunities they 
have of inspecting all classes of furniture and furnishings at 
the S.C.W.S. warehouse and showrooms. It has already been 
mentioned that the furniture trade of the Wholesale was 
formerly done as part of the business of the drapery department, 
as is stiU the custom in many large drapery warehouses. Even 
after the accounts of the two departments were separated and 
they were placed under separate management, they were still 
housed in the same buUding. When the central premises were 
opened in 1897 the furniture department was given accom- 
modation in the new building at " No. 95," and there the depart- 
ment still has its headquarters, although it has expanded from 
floor to floor until it now claims three floors, with attics and part 
of the basement of the building, for its own. In addition to 
that, there is a commodious furniture warehouse in Chambers 
Street, Edinburgh. In the last normal year— that which ended 
in June 1914 — the trade of the furniture departments amounted 
to £420,678. That is done, literally, under the Wholesale's own 
roof, and it indicates an enormous advance from the period when 
the furniture department was little more than an agency which 
ordered from other warehouses what the retail societies required. 
Now the representatives of these societies may go to the S.C.W.S. 
warehouses and inspect the choicest furniture — of which there 
is a wonderful stock and variety — displayed under the best 
possible conditions. 

The furniture department's headquarters are situated on the 
floors above the counting house at Morrison Street ; and there 
Mr WiUiam Miller, the manager of the department, and Mr T. 
Fenwick, assistant manager, have their private rooms. On the 
left of the stair landing is the furniture showroom ; or, perhaps, 
it would be more correct to say the showroom begins there, for 


it extends almost round the building, so that the buyer who 
enters the door on the right of the landing need only go straight 
on and he will arrive also at the showroom. This showroom is 
a wilful provocation to visitors to spend money on furniture. 
It is laid out with superb taste ; it displays superb furniture ; 
and whether the buyer from a society wants to furnish a single 
apartment or a mansion he will find there all he wants to 
■complete the order. Several rooms are laid out as models of 
drawing room, dining room, or parlour ; and the visitor is shown 
how the articles sold in the establishment will look when they are 
sent home if the lady of the house displays a little taste in the 
arrangement of the rooms. Suites, chairs, couches, divans ; 
sideboards, tables, pedestals, bookcases ; overmantels, mirrors, 
and hallstands ; writing desks, escritoires, and consulting 
tables are in distracting variety, and the variety repeats itself 
in the woods and coverings used in the multitudinous articles 
shown. So the tour of the showroom begins with the elaborate 
and the costly goods and finishes with the homelier, though 
scarcely less tastefully constructed, furniture of the kitchen. 
On this floor also will be found the French polishers, who give 
a final touch up to every article before it leaves the premises. 
On the opposite side of the landing the china and glassware 
showroom is situated ; and there is no more beautiful showroom 
in the trade to be found in Scotland. Here one can inspect 
what the gudewife calls her " using dishes " — the tea and dinner 
things for ordinary every-day use — ^but they are articles that 
people must bliy. The art of salesmanship is demonstrated in 
the display of articles that people buy because they are made to 
like them. In this art the china and glassware department 
excels. A large salon, with walls decorated in white and gold, 
except those walls which are covered by magnificent mirror- 
backed, electrically-lighted showcases, provides an art gallery 
teeming with beautiful articles in crystal, china, and almost 
every known variety of pottery. It strikes the casual visitor 
as being incredible that these articles are only intended for said 
to co-operators, who comprise few people outside the ranks of 
the working classes ; but the whole furniture warehouse provides 
eloquent evidence of the bien condition of the co-operators — 
whatever may be said of the conditions of other workers — and of 
the growing sense of the artistic in their desires. Plant pots 


and bulb-bowls mounted on pedestals or tastefuUy arranged on 
tables; cut and figured flower tubes and epergnes-^ome 
mounted in silver on mirror stands— plaques, vases, and orna- 
ments, besides glassware for table use, the most exquisite tea 
sets and dinner sets, and an extensive range of bedroom and 
trinket sets ; this might be a general description of the contents 
of the showroom. It is an inadequate description, however. 
Among the vases and ornaments are beautiful designs in Royal 
Porcelain, Doulton, and Rozane ware ; pedestal and plant pot& 
in Bretby ware form at times a feature of the display ; but the 
salon is rarely without a choice collection of Royal Dux orna- 
ments. Some of the centrepieces in this last-mentioned ware, 
consisting of groups of cattle and aesthetic human figures, are 
veritable gems of pottery. 

Adjoining the china showroom is the optical, photographic,, 
and art department. The showroom displays the same tasteful 
appearance as the departments of the warehouse already 
described. Charming pictures — oil paintings, water-colours, 
engravings, photogravures, and high-class prints — for sale to 
Co-operative societies, adorn the walls. The showcases contain 
large varieties of picture and photo frames in wood, silver, brass, 
bronze, art metals, and all other known varieties. Cameras and 
photographic apparatus and material of all kinds ; field glasses 
and opera glasses ; spectacles and all kinds of optical instru- 
ments are on show and sale here. Two of the best-equipped 
sight-testing rooms in Glasgow form part of the estabUshment. 
An accomplished staff attends to members of societies sent there 
to be tested, and members of the staff visit societies aU over 
Scotland for sight-testing on days fixed to suit the convenience 
of the co-operators of the various districts. The staff of the 
department undertakes photographic work for the Wholesale 
itself and for retail societies. Portraiture is not yet rmdertaken 
except in special circumstances ; but a good deal of indoor and 
outdoor photography is done ; and the development of plates 
and films and printing and enlargement from the negatives is a 
regular occupation of the department. Kinematograph 
exhibitions are provided for co-operative entertainments as 
also the illustration of lectures and the making of lantern slides. 

The jewellery department is another interesting branch of the 
furniture warehouse. Every conceivable article that the well- 


to-do worker chooses to buy for himself or his wife ; or that the 
members of a Co-operative association care to present to a 
deserving colleague may be selected there. The timekeepers 
range from the smallest wristlet watch to the stateliest 
" grandfather clock " that chimes the hours and quarters ; 
brooches, ear-rings, necklets, and pendants ; silverplate and 
rich specimens of the goldsmith's art ; bronze statuary and gem 
ornaments — almost everything known as jewellery is to be seen 
on inquiry at Morrison Street. It is so different from the time 
when the trade was started and when the stock was kept by Mr 
Macintosh in the of&ce safe.* The department now occupies a 
large floor space above the furniture showroom. A music 
department specialises in musical instruments of all kinds from 
the Grand piano required for a Co-operative hall to the flageolet 
which a tolerant parent gives to his son. The department also 
supphes any music that Co-operative players ask for ; and it 
has a concert direction which provides companies for Co-operative 
entertainments, very often working in connection with the 
kinematograph section of the optical and photographic depart- 

All the departments of the furniture warehouse cannot be 
described in detail ; but they comprise carpets, beds and bedding, 
linoleum and floorcloth, cutlery and hardware, cycles, bags and 
leather goods and smokers' requisites, ironmongery, tinware, 
perambulators, brushes, and toys department, all working 
under their departmental heads, each of whom is a speciaUst in 
his own line. 


The Wholesale Society found it necessary, in order to meet the 
convenience of the societies in the East of Scotland, to open a 
furniture showroom in Edinburgh. The trade so developed 
that storage accommodation had to be secured, and eventually 
the showroom developed into a full-blown warehouse as 
attractive as any owned by the Society. 

The property in Chambers Street, where the warehouse is 
situated, was purchased in 1897. The street has many historic 
associations. It is named after Dr. WilUam Chambers, the 

*See page 121. 


well-known publisher, who was Lord Provost of Edinburgh 
when considerable city improvements were effected. His 
statue stands in the middle of the street opposite the Royal 
Scottish Museum, one of the most important in the kingdom. 
When Chambers Street was laid out in 1871 it traversed some 
old Edinburgh squares which, like Canongate itself, had shed 
their residential glories. On the same side as the S.C.W.S. 
warehouse Guthrie Street branches off. This was formerly 
known as the College Wynd, and in it stood the house in which 
Sir Walter Scott was born. On the same side is the Church of 
Scotland Training College, which prepares teachers for the 
public schools, and Heriot-Watt College, which has given 
excellent opportunities for evening study to Edinburgh citizens. 
The original property which the S.C.W.S. devoted to warehouse 
purposes was formerly the Free New North Church, which was 
erected about 1878. This was occupied by the Wholesale in 
1898 — although purchased in 1897. It is scarcely a base use 
to which to put a sacred edifice ; for if Christian ideals were 
preached in the building to begin with, the system of trade and 
the principles which govern Co-operative trade are but the 
appUcation of those ideals in practice. Among the old squares 
demolished in 1871 was Argyle Square in which stood Minto 
House, the first town house of Lord Minto. Lord Minto was 
Sir George Elliot, who became a Judge of the Court of Session 
after a distinguished career at the Bar. He made a name for 
himself by his successful defence of William Veitch, a Covenanting 
minister ; and — ^prior to his elevation to the Bench — ^he was 
suspected of faciUtating the escape of the Earl of Argyle, and 
had to flee to Holland. After the death of the third baronet, 
Minto House was the residence of Sir William Naime of 
Dunsinnan, also a High Court Judge. Later, the house, like 
so many old Edinburgh mansions, was divided into smaller 
dweUings for the humbler folk ; but in 1829 Professor Syme 
had it fitted up as a surgical hospital. Finally it was swept 
away and on its place was erected the " New Medical School of 
Minto House," and this was the church purchased by the S.C.W.S. 
In 1908, owing to the very considerable extension of the trade of 
the warehouse, the S.C.W.S. purchased Minto House, and this 
and the old church constitute the warehouse as it exists to-day. 
That purchase practically doubled the size of the warehouse. 


and the completed premises were opened with some jubilation 
on 14th December 1909. 

The wish expressed at the opening ceremony by Mr Alexander 
Mallace, of Edinburgh, that " the East of Scotland should find 
everything necessary there without having to go to Glasgow " 
has very nearly been realised ; and the Edinburgh warehouse 
has served a very useful purpose. The trade has been growing 
more and more comprehensive. For the first forty-six weeks 
it was opened [i.e., till the end of 1897) the trade was ^27,867 ; 
when the Minto House addition was completed it had reached 
^£64,000 ; the outbreak of war found it at £94,156 ; and in the 
jubilee year it had reached £135,615. A notable feature of the 
trade in normal years was the number of cycles sold. Since 
1906 the warehouse has been under the supervision of Mr George 
Carson, who entered the Society's service as a boy, and was 
trained in the business under Mr William Miller in the Glasgow 


Stationery and advertising are separate departments of the 
Wholesale Society's business, and they are bracketed together 
here because the two departments have their headquarters in 
the same building between Paterson Street and Dundas Street, 
on the north side of Morrison Street. 

The dimensions of the stationery warehouse, as indicated in the 
picture pubhshed in this volume, will perhaps convey some idea 
of the extent of the business done. Already the premises, 
although only occupied since 1913 by the stationery department, 
have proved to be too small, although part of the building 
formerly occupied by the Scottish Co-operative Friendly Society 
has been requisitioned by the stationery warehouse. An 
extension of the building is now in progress, which will continue 
the front further west towards Dundas Street, so that in the 
finished warehouse the front door, which appears in the picture 
to be near to the west end, wiU be in the centre of the 

The marble and mahogany lined entrance leads to the ground 
floor of the warehouse through a substantial hall. A broad, 
well-lighted staircase communicates with the upper floors, and 


there is also a hydraulic elevator communication from the 
basement to the top of the building, which, however, is chiefly 
used for goods. The ground floor is used chiefly for the paper 
warehouse, guillotine room, and dispatch department. The 
first floor is given over to the purposes of the showroom and 
saleroom ; and it is one of the most attractive showrooms in 
the trade in Glasgow. The department is so admirably organised 
that societies' representatives, whether their business be to 
give orders, to select goods, or to consult the manager (Mr 
David Ross), have no occasion to go to any other part of the 
warehouse. The manager's private room occupies part of this 
floor. Opening from the principal showroom is a smaller room 
used chiefly by the staff for preparing goods for dispatch. The 
showroom is handsomely furnished with artistic showcases, and' 
all classes of stationery and printed goods are on view, from 
ornamental stationery cases and inkstands to scribbling blocks. 
An evidence of development in recent years is seen in the 
wonderful collection of books, from Bibles and classics to the 
most popular volumes of light literature. The second floor is 
used as the store for miscellaneous printed matter and writing 
papers. The third floor is the store for stocks of bags, twine, 
and paper ; and the attics and basement are used for storing 
heavy stock. A goods entrance opens from Paterson Street, 
and there are two loading and unloading tables against which 
lorries and vans may be drawn up. These tables open into the 
ground floor of the warehouse where the receiving and 
dispatching departments are situated. 

The department derives a very large proportion of its supplies 
from the Society's own productive works, particularly from the 
printing department ; and the big extensions in the printing 
department in recent years have been largely due to the Society's 
growing trade in stationery of all kinds. The supplies of goods 
that have not yet been included in Co-operative productions 
are purchased from the best firms in the trade ; and the 
developments of late, which resulted in a big increase in the 
trade of the department, have been due chiefly to the fact that, 
owing to the incessant pressure of the manager of the stationery 
department and the department's ability to provide for all the 
requirements of the people, retail societies have devoted 
considerably more attention to the stationery business ; and 


this has been to the advantage of the members individually 
and collectively. 

A number of the articles selected at random from the 
department's invoices shows the wide range of goods dealt in. 
These articles comprise notepaper, ink, pencils, pens, fountain 
pens, stylos, ink-bottles and stands, rulers, notebooks, paper 
flowers, serviettes, paper dominoes, paper blinds, playing 
cards, toilet rolls and fixtures, diaries, dictionaries, standard 
poets. Bibles, dessert papers, slates, jotters, Christmas cards, 
wedding invitations, visiting cards, erasers, macrame twine, 
scraps, wedding-cake boxes, table centres, novels, toy books 
and picture books, calendars, files, news-cutting books, and 
other articles which are too numerous to mention. Of the 
extent to which the trade is growing it is enough to record that, 
while the whole stationery trade of the Society amounted to 
about ;f75,ooo in 1904, when the business was all done from 
Glasgow, the trade of the Glasgow warehouse alone for 1914 
was £91,213, despite the dislocation of supplies of paper which 
occurred in the latter part of that year owing to the war and the 
big slump in the Christmas card trade for the same reason. 
It was only in 1913, however, that the department had room to 
develop, and the improved facilities for trade provided to the 
department brought its recompense in a trade of £269,421 for 
1918 with societies, apart from sales to the S.C.W.S. departments 
and factories, amounting to over £35,000 for the year. 

The advertising department, as at present known, is a 
comparatively new creation, having been established in 191-2. 
When the Co-operative societies were small in membership and 
Umited in operations, and the S.C.W.S. was proportionately 
less in importance than it is now, advertising was unnecessary. 
The Co-operative productions were known to all members of 
the societies and were asked for, and advertising was then 
regarded as a needless tax on trade. The only form of advertising 
indulged in at that stage was the holding of exhibitions of 
Co-operative productions in centres where there were Co-operative 
societies whose members might be enlightened as to the extent 
of the Wholesale's operations. The Co-operative exhibition was 
a feature of every Co-operative Congress — till the war made it 
necessary to suspend them — ^but some of the S.C.W.S. exhibitions 
held from time to time were glorious attractions for several days 


at' a time in many a country town, while even Edinburgh and 
Glasgow people have found them attractive. Band performances 
and concerts were some of the usual side shows ; while the 
cocoa kiosk, from which cups of Co-operative cocoa were 
dispensed gratuitously to visitors, was one of the most popular 
features of the exhibitions. The International Exhibitions held 
in Glasgow and Edinburgh almost invariably comprised S.C.W.S. 
exhibits,* and when Glasgow became a centre for a section of 
the British Industries Fair after the outbreak of war, there were 
few exhibitors who could provide so comprehensive collection 
of such excellent productions and manufactures. 

Apart from these exhibitions, the S.C.W.S. rarely advertised 
except in official Co-operative publications, such as the Wholesale 
Societies' Annuals, the Co-operative newspapers, descriptive 
booklets, and in programmes for Co-operative meetings. The 
designing of show cards and bills for display in the stores was 
left largely to the printing department staff, and this also 
applied to labels and wrappers for Co-operative packages — work 
which is still partly left to them. 

With the frenzied advertising of the manufacturers of so 
many commodities and the rapid and extensive growth of 
Co-operative membership, which brought into the movement 
many not familiar \vith the real significance of Co-operative 
industry, it became necessary for the S.C.W.S. to advertise 
more generally than was necessary before, the separate advertising 
department was established, and Mr James Orr, of the counting 
house staff, who had been organising the exhibitions and the 
publicity connected with them for a good many years, was 
placed in charge of the new department. 

Advertisements run in about forty Scottish and daily papers 
and twenty periodicals, exclusive of the Co-operative publica- 
tions. If one goes to a theatre or music haU it is almost certain 
that a Co-operative advertisement will be seen on the curtain 
or on the programme. It is so also with concert and cinema 
programmes. Ingenious electric signs flash out the message of 
Co-operation. Attractive posters on the hoardings and extensive 
painted advertisements on specially selected gables on the 
principal tram routes shout at people the insistent message 
" Join the store nearest your door." Signboards on tram cars, 

* See page 306. 


at railway stations, on railway bridges make the same or a 
similar exhortation. Much to the annoyance of Glasgow traders, 
the Co-operative advertisement appeared on Corporation band 
performance programmes hung in the Glasgow tram cars. 
Somebody wrote to John Bull about it, but the story was not 
told properly and John's onslaught missed fire. Special summer 
advertising campaigns have been instituted at hoUday resorts 
and at athletic gatherings. The advertising of S.C.W.S. produc- 
tions in Co-operative pubUcations, including societies' and guUd 
programmes, year books, and membership cards, is pretty 
extensive ; and the departmental staff keep the Co-operative 
shops weU supplied with showcards, cut-outs, and window 

At every turn, one might say, Co-operation proclainis its 
presence. The advertising department only spends between 
;f6,ooo and £7,000 per year, or about one farthing for every £3 
of sales. Some concerns pay for advertising at rates varying 
from 2j per cent, to 10 per cent, of their turnover, but then 
their advertising is the chief merit of some businesses, as state- 
ments from the judicial bench have shown from time to time. 

The Leith stationery department is housed in the Links Place 
premises, where it occupies one of the upper flats. The depart- 
ment is " cribbed, cabined, and confined " by the limitation of 
floor space ; but, in the meantime, it contrives to keep abreast 
of the volume of trade by appropriating any little vacant spots 
that it can find in any of the other departments which share the 
shelter of this warehouse with it. It has been an undoubted 
advantage to societies in the East of Scotland to have the 
department in the midst of their Co-operative activities, and the 
Wholesale has gained because it has, through the department, 
retained trade and attracted trade that could not otherwise have 
been catered for. The Leith branch was established in 1904, 
Mr David Ross taking charge in the first year as has already been 
stated. He remained, in fact, till 1906, when Mr Thomas Porter 
was placed in charge. As an indication of how the trade has 
developed, it may be mentioned, that, while -the trade of the 
whole stationery department was about , X76,ooo in 1904, . the 
Leith branch alone did a trade of £79,874 in 1918, and, the 
Glasgow warehouse had a trade of £322,905 in the same year. 
These figures include the transfers of goods to other departments 


of the Wholesale as well as sales to the societies ; but the sales 
to societies were £76,625 from Leith and £269,422 from Glasgow. 
Increases in the price of all classes of paper and stationery no 
doubt swell the totals— the sales in 1914 were £22,803 from 
Leith and £91,214 from Glasgow ; but the difference in prices 
does not account for the difference because in the intervening 
period between these two years an extensive trade in literature, 
official and other pubhcations, and a number of other new lines, 
was developed. A considerable quantity of the goods sold from 
the two stationery warehouses is produced at the printing works 
at Shieldhall.* 


The question of insurance had exercised the minds of Co-operators 
for a long time, and in 1867 the Co-operative Congress decided 
that a Co-operative Insurance Society should be established. 
The society made considerable headway in several directions, 
but in 1912 the Co-operative Insurance Society became a 
department jointly owned and jointly managed by the two 
Wholesale Societies. 

This section of the Wholesale's business is one that is bound 
to grow. It has to compete with older institutions doing the 
same work, but it appears clear that it is gradually making 
progress in all its departments. It insures societies and 
individuals against fire, burglary, and plate glass risks ; it 
undertakes employers' liability, workmen's compensation, 
accident, and fideUty insurance, and in these directions its 
business is very substantial. Life assurance is not so extensively 
carried on as the directors would hke, owing to older concerns 
having had the start and assured persons not being too eager 
to transfer policies, but Co-operators who are now taking 
advantage of the various schemes of life assurance that have 
been popularised — the ordinary, specisd, and industrial systems 
— are choosing the C.I.S. as their medium, and the business 
is growing. The C.I.S. has made its greatest success in a new 
form of assurance which no other company could undertake. 
This is the collective life assurance scheme. A society, large 
or small, decides at a general meeting of the members to adopt 
* See " The Printing Department," page 374. 



the scheme. It is then registered as a participant for the year. 
The last issued balance-sheet is taken as the basis of the 
agreement and a general pohcy is issued covering every member, 
the society pajdng to the insurance department a premium equal 
to one penny for every £i of sales. The premiums are paid 
quarterly, or as often as the balance-sheet is issued. If a member 
of an assured society dies while the pohcy is in operation notice 
is sent to his society, and a funeral benefit is paid equivalent 
to four shUlings per £ of the member's annual purchases from 
his society. The amount of purchases is averaged over three 
years, so that the effect of unemployment and other factors 
contributing to a temporary decrease of purchases is minimised. 
Thus, if a member of an assured society, purchasing goods to 
the extent of £40 per annum, die his next of kin is entitled to 
receive £8. If the wife of a member die the husband would 
receive half the benefit and would still remain assured. The 
cost of working the scheme, in view of the fact that the ordinary 
bookkeeping of the retail society absolves the C.I.S. from 
issuing separate poUcies and registering premiums for the 
individual members, is reduced to about 3 per cent, of the 
premiums. Under the industrial system, by which the assured 
person pays so much per week, an enormous amount of book- 
keeping and clerical work is involved and an army of collectors 
is engaged, and the cost of working the industrial system is 
therefore much higher — amounting to about 43 per cent, in 
many cases. In 1918 there were 710 societies assured, the 
aggregate membership of these being 1,952,556. The premiums 
paid to the department amounted to £283,383, and the claims 
paid by the department totalled 35,414, amounting to £246,232. 
The following data show the rate of progress made in the 
various branches of the insurance business. 

Collective Life Assurance Business. 

No. of 


No. of 

Members of 



Claims Paid. 














Life Assurance Business (Individuals). 

Ordinary. i Special. 



Claims Paid. 1 p.^^j^^. 

Claims Paid. 


Claims Paid. 






































Fire and Accident and General Insurance Business. 


Accident and General. 



Claims Paid. 



Claims Paid. 
















£ ' 


Employers' Llability Insurance Business. 



Claims Paid. 

















In 1918 the total premium income in all departments amounted to 


The insurance department was located in the premises at 
the corner of Paterson Street and Morrison Street when the 
Wholesale took over the business. Later it was housed at the 
corner of Dundas Street and Morrison Street. Now it occupies 
another set of temporary premises in the building adjoining the 
new grocery premises in Morrison Street, the Glasgow manager 
being Mr James Darroch. 

* Accident, Burglary, Fidelity, Plate Glass, Motor Vehicle, and Live Stock Insurances are 
included in the Accident and QeneralAccount. 


State Insurance. 

The inauguration of the compulsory State insurance of all 
employed persons opened out a new prospect of Co-operative 
development. The State — as represented by Mr Lloyd George 
— anticipated strenuous opposition to its scheme from the great 
friendly societies of the country, and gave the customary " sop 
to Cerberus " by deciding that all contributions must be paid 
through " approved societies " if people wished to secure the 
maximum State benefits, and at the same time decreeing that 
existing friendly societies might become " approved " societies. 
When the Insurance Bill was submitted to Parliament it had the 
close consideration of the Joint Parliamentary Committee of 
the Co-operative Union and the two Wholesale Societies, and 
the committee passed a unanimous resolution declaring " That 
the Committee are of opinion that the National Insurance BUI 
win give to our movement a long-needed opportunity of adding 
to its ruany spheres of usefulness that of insuring against sickness, 
disablement, and unemployment those of its members not other- 
wise pro'vdded for, and we strongly recommend that arrangements 
be made to take advantage of its provisions when passed into law." 

A good many Co-operators who were deeply interested in 
friendly societies doubted the wisdom of taking any steps to 
give effect to this resolution. Mr Thomas Tweddell, a director 
(afterwards president) of the English Wholesale Society, became 
an ardent propagandist, and on 27th January 1912 he read a 
paper at a special conference held in the Oddfellows' Hall, 
Edinburgh, on the invitation of the Scottish Section of the 
Co-operative Union, in which he advocated that the Co-operative 
movement should form an approved society under the Act, 
and the Scottish Co-operative Friendly Society came into being 
as already described.* 

The Friendly Society has had a singularly successful 
experience, thanks to the care and foresight of its officials and 
committee. At the annual meeting held in 1918 it was officially 
reported that from the society's inception eighteen other societies 
had transferred their engagements to it. This was half the total 
number of Scottish societies that had transferred their engage- 
ments to other societies, and the fact that so large a proportion 

* See page 214. 


had selected the Co-operative Friendly Society was eloquent 
evidence of its strong financial position, although greater evidence 
still is the fact that several of them selected this society on the 
advice of the Commissioners. The Commissioners have, in fact, 
warmly commended the services rendered to State insurance in 
Scotland by the secretary, Mr William Thomson. 

In 1913 the membership was 6,337 "i^n and 5,689 women, 
a total of 12,026 ; whereas in the Wholesale's Jubilee year the 
membership was reported as 7,938 men and 9,363 women, a 
total of 17,301, although that did not represent the full number 
at the end of the year. The expenditure on sickness benefit 
recorded in the annual report at the 1918 meeting was ;^5,5o8 ; 
on disablement benefit, ;^2,I35 ; on maternity benefit, £957 ; 
and the married women's credits amounted to £110. The 
invested surplus funds in 1918 were £36,552, of which £16,440 
was in 5 per cent. War Loan Stock, and £20,112 invested with 
the National Debt Commissioners. 


The building which forms the " gusset " at Paisley Road and 
Morrison Street is resolved into a triangle by Dundas Street, 
and therefore comprises the first of the Wholesale's " south- 
side" premises.* That original " Paisley Road warehouse " is 
the eastern block, and was built for the society. The grocery 
department uses part of this building, but established there are 
the of&ce staff and architects of the building department, the 
office of the coal department, and the dining rooms managed 
by the S.C.W.S. catering department. The operations of the 
building department are separately described, f 

When the S.C.W.S. holds one of its periodical miUinery shows 
or entertains a party of delegates visiting one of the Society's 
centres, the guests of the Society are always impressed with 
the efficiency of the Wholesale catering department, of which 
Mr George Boyle is the chief. These occasions only come 
occasionally, however, whereas the catering department is 
never idle. The department is busiest at Glasgow and 
ShieldhaU, where there are enormous numbers of employees 
who cannot get home for dinner, and who are provided for in 
* See pages 80-1. t See page 342. 


the Society's dining rooms. The department is not a trading 
department in the ordinary sense, for its primary function is 
to afford these employees facilities for meals. It does not 
undertake catering on a wholesale scale except in the Wholesale's 
own premises or at functions arranged by the Society itself. 
While the Calderwood Estate was available for picnic parties 
and excursionists, and the grounds were crowded on Saturday 
afternoons with these organised visitors, it was the rule that 
all the catering must be done by the S.C.W.S. department. 
That regulation was not made for the purpose of estabhshing 
any trade monopoly, but for the purpose of preserving order 
at Calderwood and avoiding the confusion that would be bound 
to arise if there were a dozen excursions on the one day (no 
unusual thing), each catered for by its own purveyors, with cooks 
and waiters or waitresses all getting into the way of each other. 
During a normal summer thousands of meals would be provided 
at Calderwood by the department. The delegates attending the 
Wholesale meetings — as many as 1,200 at times — all require 
food after having travelled from all parts of Scotland, and to 
feed this number tmce during the day is a fairly big job. 
Delegates attending conferences held on Wholesale premises 
are also seen to. During the war thousands of wounded 
soldiers were entertained to dinners and teas in the Wholesale 
establishments and on steamers, and for four and a half years 
the large colony of Belgian refugees at Calderwood were 
attended to by the department. The Wholesale employees 
who take advantage of the catering arrangements have aU. the 
benefits of Co-operative trading, for the department does not 
aim at profit-making ; it simply exists to serve, and it 
obviously serves well. 

The coal department plays an important part in Co-operative 
economy. To organise coal supplies for the factories and other 
buUdings utihsed by the S.C.W.S. in its big trading and 
industrial operations is a serious undertaking by itself ; but 
to act as the buyer for the retail Co-operative societies requires 
constant vigilance on the part of the staff of the department 
which is presided over by Mr Thomas Burton, who is a familiar 
figure on 'Change. The trade was always subject to troubles 
which many other trades were spared. This fact imposes upon 
the departmental chief and his staff considerable anxiety[; 


and the department has fulfilled its purpose with considerable 
success, despite the suddenness with which disorganisation 
sometimes affected the mining industry. The S.C.W.S. owns 
about 120 trucks, and by 1914 it had organised a trade 
extending to 338,000 tons per year. Of that, about 36,860 tons 
were used for the Wholesale Society's own mUls and factories. 
In the succeeding years labour scarcity, the disorganisation of 
traffic facilities, and the Government's rationing system 
interfered with the trade of the department very considerably. 
The Government's arrangements were not fair to the 
Co-operative societies, because the terms of supply fixed the 
ration in proportion to the supplies deUvered at an earUer 
period, and not in proportion to the number of registered 
customers. In spite of these serious obstacles, the coal 
department sold over 298,272 tons during 1918. On various 
occasions the department has been consulted by the authorities, 
who required expert guidance in problems connected with coal 
supply and distribution, and in a number of ways the 
department has effected a considerable saving for the whole 


Morrison Street is not the only Co-operative centre in Glasgow. 
Paterson Street, in fact, almost rivals Morrison Street for the 
variety of Co-operative associations. Stand at the corner of 
Morrison Street and look north. It is a short view ; but in the 
Uttle there' is to see of Paterson Street in that direction there is 
the green fruit department which adjoins the stationery warehouse 
on the one side and the egg department on the other. Looking 
southwards, the view at close quarters is of the drapery warehouse, 
which comprises some productive departments. Further south, 
however, tall buildings rise almost at the extreme end of the 
street. They house a variety of S.C.W.S. departments. In those 
premises the building* department, the stables, the mechanics' 
shop, and general plant are located. Important factories, 
however, also find their home in Paterson Street. Most of these 
are dealt with in separate descriptive notes ; but the importance 
of this group may be estimated when it is pointed out that it 
* See pages 342. 


comprises the shirt factory, the underclothing factory, the 
bespoke clothing, and juvenile clothing departments, the blouse 
factory, the waste department, and the embroidery department. 
The waste factory is already described,* and the shirt and 
clothing factories come under their own categories. 

The embroidery department is worthy of special notice, 
however. This was established in 1913, when it was housed at 
the other end of Paterson Street, at the comer of Maxwell Place, 
close to the fruit department. The latest inventions in machines 
are used for making ornamental hems, hem-stitched borders, 
and drawn-thread ornamentation, and sewing on cord-edging ; 
besides plain-stitching machines, and machines used for flowered 
work, which they produce as artistically as the best hand workers. 
A specially interesting machine is one consisting of six working 
bands, by which the same ornamental design may be produced 
on six articles at the one time. This combination is used chiefly 
for the stitching of ornamental monograms on handkerchiefs 
and other articles requiring to be so embroidered. The work 
turned out is highly ornamental, and this is only one of the many 
ventures which has added to the importance of the drapery 

Dundas Street runs parallel to Paterson Street, and the 
buUdings in one adjoin the buildings in the other. At the south 
end of Dundas Street the chief building is the boot warehouse ;f 
but in Dundas Lane North is located the heating plant, and in 
Dundas Lane South there is a sub-electric station. 

The drapery warehouse, described separately,! houses several 
important productive departments. One of these is the special 
mantle factory ; and another is the millinery department. 
The trade of these departments is merged, of course, in that of 
the drapery department ; j'et these departments alone con- 
tribute to the success of the drapery department very considerably. 
The latest modes in mantles are produced, and the millinery is 
of the very highest quality, as will be testified by anyone who 
has had the pleasure of attending one of the seasonal shows held 
under the auspices of these departments. It will, no doubt, 
surprise many to learn that no fewer than 600 artists are engaged 
in producing the designs followed by the millinery department, 

*See page 322. f S^e Boot and Shoe Production, page 370. 
J See page 320. 


and, if that does not furnish variety enough, the Co-operators 
of Scotland are more fastidious than they are beUeved to be. 
In Maxweltown Place, overlooking the Kingston Dock, is the satin 
hat factory, which serves a very useful purpose, and is, naturally, 
an auxiliary to the drapery department. The factory was 
established in February 1903, under the management of Mr 
Mungo, but Mr Cook is now in charge. At one time the industry 
was thriving and ten persons were employed, but the " lum 
hat " has lost its old popularity, and seven men and women 
are now employed, partly at men's and partly at ladies' hats. 

Another busy centre — for it is near eriough to Morrison Street 
to be regarded as belonging to the centre — is the building at the 
comer of Park Street and Smith Street, Kinning Park. Here 
are located the ham-curing and sausage factories,* the cartwright, 
building, and saddlery departments,! the bedding department, 
scale repair factory, and waterproof and oilskin factories.! 

The scale making and repairing factory referred to was 
established 1908, owing to a desire on the part of the societies 
to keep their weighing apparatus correctly adjusted. Contracts 
are entered into under which the shops of societies are visited 
and the weighing machines tested and adjusted. The manu- 
facture of scales and weighing machines was undertaken too, and 
the department proved its usefulness in many ways. In June 
1918 a branch scale repair shop was opened in Edinburgh, and 
during the jubilee year the work undertaken represented a 
turnover of nearly £3,000. This, of course, does not include 
the value of weighing apparatus sold to societies. 


There was a time when the S.C.W.S. believed it would be better 
to employ a joiner regularly than to call one in from an outside 
workshop every time a Uttle job had to be done about the 
premises. The work soon got to be too much for one, and 
another was taken on ; and, eventually, several workmen were 
kept regularly in employment attending to repairs and Uttle 
alterations that were wanted here and there. The whole of 
the gusset buildings at Paisley Road and Morrison Street had 
been acquired ; the Wholesale had inaugurated its shirt and 
* See page 359. f See page 417. { See page 381. 


clothing factories, its boot and cabinet factories, and its 
upholstery department by 1885 ; and all this involved a good 
deal of work for tradesmen of all kinds, for departments were 
extending and alterations had to be made frequently. 

In view of this a building department was inaugurated in 
1885. The department undertook the whole of the joinery 
work for the Dundas Street building in which the boot factory 
and the furniture warehouse were situated in 1887. It was 
the department's first job of any importance. What it has 
done since then is evidenced by the magnificent architectural 
monuments provided by the central premises, the drapery 
warehouse, the Chancelot mills, the new grocery warehouse in 
Morrison Street now nearing completion, the stationery ware- 
house, and the whole of the Shieldhall establishment, to mention 
only the more important and more ornamental of their 
" productions " ; but, in short, the department has erected all 
the Wholesale's buildings that have arisen since 1887. Besides 
that, extensive alterations and additions have been made to 
buildings from time to time. Apart from what the department 
has done for the Wholesale Society itself, it has carried through 
very considerable building contracts for other Co-operative 
societies. The Convalescent Home at Seamill, West Kilbride, 
and the big extension to Abbotsview Home are well-known 
examples of the department's skill ; but warehouses, shops 
and offices, shops with houses above, bakeries, and stables 
have been built for Co-operative societies in various parts of 
the country, while the structural alterations executed have 
been numerous. 

The department does not only build what others design. 
It has its own staff of architects and its own costing staff, who 
are constantly designing buildings required by the Wholesale 
or society members, and estimating for such work. Most of the 
work done for the WTiolesale in recent years, even the most 
ornate work, has been designed by the Society's own staff, and 
carried out under the supervision of the late Mr James Davidson 
— the head of the department — or his successor Mr WiUiam 
Mercer, who was for a long time his assistant and deputy. 
" Who builds stronger than the mason, the shipwright, or the 
carpenter ? " According to Shakespeare it is the grave-maker, 
" for the houses he builds last till Domesday." The buildings 


contrived and erected by the S.C.W.S. building department are 
not guaranteed to last so long as that ; but, like most Co-operative 
productions, they are solid goods, guaranteed to meet tear 
and wear as long as stone and lime will resist the ravages 
of time. 

The resources of the Wholesale are not fully exhausted when 
it buUds and designs. It has its own sawmill ; its cabinet 
factory provides fixtures which it can provide for the building 
department without violating the canons of trade unionism ; 
its engineering department makes and erects a good deal of the 
fittings, and there was a time — fifteen years ago — when slates 
might be obtained from a Co-operative quarry ; but that quarry 
is no longer a Co-operative possession. The Society, however, 
puts its own painters and decorators on to contracts for other 
societies as well as to work in Wholesale premises ; and it has 
a paint factory of its own in which paints and distempers are 
produced. The engineering, electrical, and cabinet works are 
referred to elsewhere ;* but the paint factory deserves special 
mention here. 

The painting department found distemper a highly useful 
substitute for oil paint and wallpaper in many places, and very 
considerable quantities of this material were used which, of 
course, the Wholesale had to buy. The " intelligence depart- 
ment " looked into the whole business, discovered the secret of 
manufacture, improved upon original samples, and Paterson's 
distemper is now not only used in the painting department, but 
listed for sale to the societies for sale by them, in turn, to 
members. The name is a tribute to Mr Paterson, who has been 
at the instigation of the business. The outlay involved was 
considerably below what the Wholesale had to pay, even for the 
large quantities used in the department, for the other brands. 
The venture succeeded ; and when it was found that, in three 
years— 1910-1913— no less than 80 tons of this material had been 
produced, the • department turned its attention to oil paint. 
It had been accustomed to mixing its own paints for the execution 
of its own contracts ; but when the department moved into its 
new quarters in Houston Place arrangements were made for the 
production of paint in the small tins for domestic use, which 
command a ready sale among the handy housewives, or those 
* See pages 387, 403. 


who have handy and willing husbands, who do little odd jobs 
for their own pleasure and for the beautifying of the home. 

The raw materials are brought to Houston Place premises, 
where apparatus has been provided for chemical tests to be 
applied to the ingredients in order to ensure permanency and 
other qualities essential in good paint. When the tests have 
been completed, the mixing processes are carried out in such 
a manner as to obviate the danger from which other paint 
factories are not altogether free. The proper proportioning of 
the ingredients is one of the secrets of the excellent quality of 
the Wholesale brand of paint, and this part of the business having 
been completed, the composition is placed in the patent mixer, 
so as to ensure that the paint is reduced to the proper uniform 
consistency without which paint cannot be successfully appUed. 
From the mixer the paint is run by a patent drain into tins of 
the requisite size, and the filling of the tins is therefore carried 
out with perfect cleanliness. The blending of the colours is a 
part of the process calling for special skUl and care, and it may 
be noted that the Wholesale markets its liquid paint in no fewer 
than thirty-two different shades. The paint is put up in tins of 
I lb., 2 lb., 4 lb., and 7 lb., and is sold to societies to be retailed in 
their ironmongery, hardware, or delf shops, or furnishing 
departments. Before the department was in operation for one 
month, no fewer than 6,720 i-Ib. tins were sold, to say nothing 
of a considerable trade in larger sizes. Liquid paints succeeded, 
and the production of varnish paints was undertaken. The same 
processes have to be gone through, but the varnish paint has a 
gloss that the liquid paint has not, because of the varnishing 
properties contained in the former. One venture called foranother. 
The demand for the new paint exceeded the expectations of the 
department altogether. The demand for tins added considerably 
to the output of the tinware department. The tins are of the 
lever-lid variety, and they are specially decorated ; so that the 
enterprise of the painting department not only established a 
new productive department for the Wholesale, but gave a fillip 
to several other departments. 

The extent of the work done by the building department 
jnay be judged by the fact that in 1914 it amounted in value to 
;^7i,ooo. Since then, for the greater part of the intervening 
period, embargoes on steel, restrictions on building, and other 


similar effects of the war have lessened the activities of the 
department ; but, even in spite of these obstacles, the work 
done in 1918 represented a total value of £64,000. Part of this 
sum, in both cases, is charged to the Wholesale departments 
for which the work was done, and part charged to the retail 
societies for which the contracts were carried out. The average 
number of persons employed during 1914 was 218 (lower than 
the average for some years) ; but the restrictions referred to 
and the demand for men for the Army and Navy, reduced the 
average to 140 in 1918. The building department undertakes 
the winding of all the clocks that are fixtures in the Society's 
property, and the cartwright department and the farriers' 
department * come under the supervision of Mr Mercer also. 


The Wholesale Society is credited with having the most 
handsome flour mill in the world, and a glimpse at Chancelot 
MiU, Edinburgh, furnishes prima facie evidence in support of 
the claim. The steps which led to the building of the Chancelot 
MiU and the acquisition of the Junction Mill (Leith) and Regent 
Mill (Glasgow) are recorded elsewhere,f and references are also 
made to the opening of these establishments. 

Chancelot Mill, opened in 1894, represented then the 
Wholesale's greatest venture. It is built upon land feued in 
Bonnington Road — the feu extending to a Uttle over three 
acres. Caledonian and North British railway lines skirt the 
mill, and sidings run into the grounds, so that the mill is 
admirably situated. The whole of the buildings are constructed 
of stone and the fagade to Dalmeny Road is adorned with stone 
pilasters, base belt courses, and cornices. A clock tower, which 
rises to a height of 185 feet, constitutes the chief architectural 
feature of the building, and contains a water tank, thus com- 
bining the useful with the ornamental. The mason work of each 
face of the tower is terminated in a carved stone wheatsheaf. 
The sloping roof of the tower terminates in a fiat platform 
surrounded by iron cresting containing the monogram of the 
Society, the central letters of which are about fifteen feet in 
height. The buildings on this front comprise the mill, the 
* See page 418. f See page 148, 


engine-house, the wheat-cleaning department, and the silos. 
Behind this building is the warehouse. The mill is 103 feet long 
by 34 feet wide, and extends to five storeys in height. The 
"windows are so constructed that it is almost impossible for dust 
to lie, and the interior walls are double coated with cement, 
■which gives a hard and white surface. The warehouse is 189 
feet long and has six floors, and it can store thousands of tons 
of flour. The silo house, for the storage of grain, is 137 feet 
long and has a height of 70 feet. The engine-room has a length 
of 61 feet and is quite ornate in character. There are a boiler- 
house, mechanics' workshops, sack room, dining rooms, and 
stables ; and there is also a pond containing a million gallons 
of water, chiefly for condensing and boiler feeding, which can 
also be used in the event of fire. 

The processes through which the grain passes are most 
interesting, and all the parts of Chancelot MiU work into each 
other admirably, for the mill was planned by Mr Henry Simon 
of Manchester, one of the best milling engineers of his day. 
The wheat is brought to the mill by rail or road, and is conveyed 
by means of travelling bands to the silo, where it is weighed 
and checked. The grain is cleaned by means of separators, 
which remove straw, stones, or any other material foreign to 
the pure grain required for milling. Lighter impurities, such as 
dust, are removed by fans ; automatic appliances remove 
foreign seeds, and a brush machine polishes the grain. This is 
but a brief indication of what happens in the cleansing of the 
grain, for about thirty-eight machines are brought into operation 
before the cleansing is thoroughly completed. 

When the cleansing processes are completed the grain has 
to be brought to the proper condition for milling, and the care 
with which that is done at the S.C. W.S. mills is one of the reasons 
why orders for Wholesale flour have poured in to such an extent 
that the mills are kept working to their highest capacity. Some 
grain has to be dried and some has to be damped to secure 
uniformity ; but as the supplies of grain do not aU come from 
the same region the properties of various consignments of wheat 
have to be ascertained and the grain blended by the miller, just 
as flour is subsequently blended by the baker. The blending 
of the wheat is done by machinery, and when that is completed 
the grain passes to the milling machines. These are of the 


roller type, which is specially adapted for the huge quantities 
that pass through the S.C.W.S. mills. The first roUers are 
grooved, the grooves on the succeeding rollers becoming finer, 
tiU in the end the rollers are absolutely smooth. The effect of 
the first roller is to crush the grain slightly, so as to free the 
germ and " middlings," out of which the finer flour is produced. 
In the various rollers parts of the grain, the outer shells, etc., 
are discarded. These materials have a saleable value as 
"offal." On the upper floors of the mill there are machines 
known as purifiers and scalpers, which separate and grade the 
productions of the roUers, and there is an ingenious system of 
elevators for conveying the ground material from one machine 
to that for which it is next destined. Every protection is 
provided to safeguard against fire and against explosion from 
dust in the miU and in the warehouse ; nevertheless, an outbreak 
of fire occurred on 7th February 1916. The outbreak was 
believed to have been due to some of the dry dust having been 
caught by an electric spark from one of the machines. The 
automatic alarms brought four engines from the Edinburgh 
Fire Brigade, and when they arrived on the scene dense clouds 
of smoke created the impression that the whole building was 
doomed. The mill, however, is equipped with sprinklers, from 
which water is released by the action of the fire itself, and these 
were of valuable aid in the restriction of the damage. Besides, 
the mill has its own trained fire brigade always at call, and the 
members of this brigade did excellent service in stemming the 
ravages of the flames. Two floors in the centre of the building 
were involved in the blaze, and there the fire was confined ; 
and so well had the outbreak been dealt with by the mill 
brigade that the municipal brigade were not more than an 
hour at work before the fire had been extinguished. Some of 
the shafts and elevators were destroyed, the damage from water 
was considerable, but about £1,000 covered it all. 

Junction Mill, Leith,* was purchased in 1897 to undertake 
the milling of oatmeal in order to cope with the national demand 
for the food which builds up Scottish brawn and muscle. In 
less than ten years the milling plant had to be improved and 
extended, and immediately before the war the mill was again 
remodelled and equipped for a greater output. The miU is not 

* See page 161. 


used exclusively for oatmeal as was originally intended, for part 
of the plant is used for the production of flour and other finer 
mill products, such as semolina and kindred articles. Like the 
other mills, it is being run to its full capacity. The scarcity of 
the wheat supply is reflected in an interesting fashion by the 
fact that while the S.C.W.S. provided 28,427 sacks of oatmeal 
from Junction Mill in 1914, the output of oatmeal alone from 
the miU went up to 46,444 sacks in 1918, showing that many 
had gone back to oatmeal and porridge as a partial substitute 
for flour and bread. The mill is situated in Bowling Green 
Street, but if it lacks the ornate appearance of other Wholesale 
buildings it is chiefly because it was bought for and not erected 
for the S.C.W.S. 

The historical associations of the Regent Flour Mill, Glasgow, 
have been already mentioned,* and they are a source of some 
little pride to the owners of the mill, which occupies such a 
commanding position on the banks of the Kelvin. 

The mUl consists of two buildings. The warehouse, which 
is the first of the buildings, is 240 feet long and 40 feet wide ; 
and the miU, 103 feet long by 38 feet wide. The floors and walls 
of the warehouse are so constructed as to make it almost 
impossible for fire to pass from one floor to the other. Between 
the warehouse and the mill there is a siding from the Caledonian 
railway which passes the mill, so that Regent Mill shares the 
same advantages as the other mills in respect of convenience 
for receipt and dispatch of goods. There are at Regent Mill 
the usual auxiliary departments — offices, consulting rooms, 
engine-rooms, and mechanics' departments, with the customary 
excellent provision for the convenience of the employees — ^but 
in plant and equipment there is nothing to be desired. The 
mUl was practically rebuilt in 1886 and the plant was then 
modernised, so that it was regarded as being in excellent 
condition when the Wholesale took it over. Nevertheless, there 
have been several important additions made since then, and the 
plant and machinery have been so improved and extended that 
Regent MiU is probably the most up-to-date in the country. 
The last extension was completed in 1914 and added 1,300 sacks 
per week to the productive capacity of the miU. 

The processes are similar to those carried out at Chancelot 

* See pages 179, et seq. 


Mill, and there is no need to repeat a description of them. One 
special department of the establishment, however, has to be 
mentioned. Flour, apparently, does not appeal to all bakers 
ahke. Some bakers who have been accustomed to handling 
certain brands of flour do not easily accustom themselves to 
other brands. Hence it happened that when a society began 
to buy Wholesale flour the bakers, or the foreman baker, often 
complained of being unable to turn out a satisfactory loaf> 
Other bakers, on the other hand, found the flour from the 
S.C.W.S. mills as easy to handle as any other flour, and found 
it productive of excellent results. Complaints, however extra- 
ordinary, had to be answered with technical experience. The 
bread-baking competition, estabUshed in 1909, showed that 
first-class bread, meriting the highest tributes from experts in 
the bakery trade, could be produced from the Wholesale flour ) 
but if a society's expert said he could not get on with it, it very 
usually meant that flour was bought elsewhere, and the directors 
saw no reason why the shareholding societies should not be able 
to procure satisfactory results from flour from their own mills. 
To provide the best expert advice from a technical point of 
view, there was established a little model bakery at Regent 
Mill. The directors employed the winner of the challenge shield 
for the best plain loaf at the 1909 competition, Mr Sproul of 
Musselburgh, and placed him in charge. Bakers who cannot 
produce satisfactory bread for their societies may have their 
samples examined and tested and are advised as to wherein the 
defect lies, and tests are made of fresh millings of Wholesale 
flour by producing loaves of the best quality to demonstrate 
what can be done. 

The Crichie Meal Mill, Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, was purchased 
in 1915, at a cost of ;f3,ooo. It had then been in use for only 
about a year. It differs materially from the other Wholesale 
mills, particularly as to plant. The mill is built solidly of 
granite ; there is a convenient water supply, which is able to 
keep the mill going during a considerable part of the year, and 
there is also an oil engine to keep the machinery going. The 
miU is small compared with the other mills, but it affords some 
relief to the Junction Mill, it taps a good oats-growing district, 
and it produces a good quality of Scotch oatmeal. During the 
period that the mill has been in the possession of the Wholesale 


war conditions prevailed, nevertheless during 1918 Crichie Mill 
produced 10,866 sacks. One of the chief merits of the Crichie 
MiU is that it mills Aberdeenshire oats on the spot, and 
authorities seem to agree that there is a flavour about 
Aberdeenshire oats that is hard to beat. 

Almost following the opening of Crichie Mill the Wholesale 
set up a depot in Aberdeen for the buying of oats produced in 
the surrounding country. This has been a successful auxiliary 
to the mill, but it has helped the Wholesale also because it 
established successful trading relations with the farmers generally 
to whom the Wholesale sells groceries and from whom it buys 
eggs and other farm produce — relations that the movement is 
eager to extend all over the country, especially among the 
smallholders. The transfer value of these purchases for rgiS 
amounted to no less than ^138,310, apart from the transfer 
value of the meal ground at Crichie Mill, which was £55,093. 
The Wholesale, during the last year or two, handled scarcely 
any meal but that of its own milling. 

Girtrig MiU, Drybridge, Ayrshire, was purchased in 1918. 
It is also a meal mill, smaller than Crichie Mill, but it is intended 
to act as a useful accessory to the Kilmarnock depot.* During 
the few months in 1918 that the mill belonged to the Wholesale 
it ground about 190 tons of oats, beans, etc. The miU is driven 
by water power. 

The whole miUing trade suffered serious troubles during the 
war, especially during the period of Control, which deprived the 
Wholesale of the advantage of its own network of organisation 
for wheat collecting in Canada. But despite the great capacity 
of the mills, they have to be kept running constantly almost 
day and night to keep pace with the demands of societies. 
Millions upon milhons of loaves are required each year for 
Co-operative households — the bakery of St Cuthbert's Associa- 
tion, in Edinburgh, produces three and three-quarter million 
loaves in the half-year for the members of one society alone — 
and all the other uses to which flour is put, in bakeries, in the 
homes of Co-operators, and in Co-operative restaurants, have 
only to be thought of to make one realise what the demand is 
like. The milling department delivered 710,154 sacks of flour 
to societies during 1918 (13,656 per week), as against 634,252 

*See page 317. 


■(12,197 per week) delivered in 1914, a difference which was very 
largely accounted for by the excellent terms upon which the 
Wholesale was able to supply societies. There is one fact, 
however, that is noteworthy. The Society finds a ready sale 
for the offals thrown off the grain in the miUing process— and 
nothing is allowed to go to waste — but owing to the submarine 
menace and the shortage in supplies of wheat on that account, 
the Government compelled millers everywhere to grind part of 
this offal into flour, and the amount of offal sold by the S.C.W.S. 
in 1918 was less than half the quantity sold in 1914 owing to 
this regulation. In 1918 the value of the flour and offal sold 
was ;£i,543,256. The total output of flour from the three mills 
in 1918 was 615,894 sacks. 


Many of the most active of Scottish Co-operators have never 
seen the Wholesale's estabUshment at Enniskillen ; but it would 
surprise and delight them to visit the place and see for themselves 
the extent of the operations carried on there — operations which 
represent a twentieth of the total annual turnover of the 
Wholesale ; or, for the last half-year for which figures are 
available, £513,000. 

The Enniskillen branch was established in 1885,* as a col- 
lecting centre for Irish produce. Enniskillen was chosen because 
of the supplies obtainable within a convenient radius and because 
it is in direct railway communication with Belfast and London- 
derry, which, in turn, have direct steamboat connection with 
Glasgow. As a collecting centre it has been a success from the 
start, and copious supplies of eggs, pigs, poultry, fruit, ham, and 
bacon are dispatched to the S.C.W.S. warehouses f or to the 
retail societies on the instructions of the warehouses. 

Here we are chiefly concerned with the creamery, in which 
business was commenced in July 1898, in order to improve the 
quality and maintain regular supplies of Irish butter. There 
was always a demand for Irish butter ; and the Irish trade was 
being seriously rivalled by the Danish producers. Most people 

* See page 125. 

■f For these activities at Enniskillen, see pages 311, 361. 


(1) Wool Bings at Ettrick Mills. (2) Wool Carding Room, Ettrick. 




0) Jute Preparing Department. (2) Jute Spinninj Department. 


can remember the familiar Irish " lump," wrapped in muslin. 
It was good, solid stuff ; but it was not always produced under 
the best conditions, or in the most salubrious premises, and the 
little farms were not equipped with the best means of making 
the best of the Irish product. The Wholesale Society, however, 
set up its creamery. It was not without some httle opposition 
in Ireland. The idea was to get the farmers to sell their mUk 
to the creamery, the Wholesale undertaking the manufacture 
of the butter. Even enthusiasts connected with the Irish 
Agricultural Organisation Society did not take kindly to the 
scheme. They welcomed a market for the produce the Irish 
farmer had to sell ; they did their best to improve methods, to 
improve the production of the farms, and to improve transport 
so far as they could ; but while working towards that, end they 
beheved that the actual making of the butter was work the 
Irish farmers should be allowed to undertake either by them- 
selves or in a creamery co-operatively owned by the farmers. 
In short, their idea was that the making of Irish butter was an 
Irish industry and should be carried on by Irishmen. The 
English Wholesale Society was faced with a similar view when 
it began its creameries ; but it undertook that, while it would 
establish its own creameries and organise the necessary supplies 
of milk from the farmers, it would hand the creameries over to the 
farmers of the districts affected as soon as they organised them- 
selves into Co-operative creamery societies to take them over. 
As a result of that, the C.W.S. has given up most of its creameries 
to such societies. The S.C.W.S., however, goes on at Ennis- 
killen, where it has established a reputation which makes the 
people of the district take a kindly view of the Scots people 
who own the EnniskUlen creamery. For that happy state of 
affairs a good deal of the credit is due to the tact and rectitude 
of the manager of the EnniskiUen estabUshment, Mr WiUiam 
Whyte, who had given thirty-three years of service in Ennis- 
Idllen when the Society's jubilee was reached. 

In order that people may know exactly from what kind of 
place their Irish butter comes, it may be mentioned that 
EnniskiUen is a lovely little town situated on an island, where 
a clear river meets one of the loveUest of Ireland's inland loughs 
— a town free of smoke, with clean-fronted bidldings, with a 
green hill at either end of its main street. 


The creamery is one of the most interesting places 
imaginable. The Wholesale's premises, except the piggery 
which stands on a hUlside near, overlook Lough Erne, and 
comprising the creamery, the ham and bacon curing department, 
the egg store, and the electric-power station, stand at the extreme 
end of the buildings, bounded upon one side by the main road 
to the western counties of SUgo and Donegal ; and a little road 
runs off the highway at the entrance to the creamery, and skirts 
the back of the buUdings — a little road which has two or three 
of the most charming whitewashed cottages, with blazing 
ramblers growing up the walls. Thither hundreds of farmers 
send their mUk, and a delightful picture presents itself in the 
mornings when the farmers' carts form their queue, not 
struggling for food, but giving it over for the benefit of those 
whom the fates chain to towns. The scene is as varied as it is 
gratifying, for one cart, drawn by a stout horse, will have several 
large milk cans ; another, drawn by a donkey, wiU have one ; 
here the driver is a big lump of a man with a whisker as white 
as the milk he brings ; there it is a woman who " handles the 
ribbons." The milk is emptied into a huge vessel, all that the 
farmer brings. A measure on the inside of the vessel shows how 
much the sender has given ; the quantity is noted by a busy 
clerk against the farmer's name ; a sample of the milk is taken 
and placed in a glass bottle bearing the farmer's number, so that 
when the dehvery of milk has ceased for the day the sample 
may be tested for its quality, which regulates the price. In 
1918, 2I milUon gallons of milk were so handled. The cream, 
after being cooled, is run into the " churn," a large, horizontal 
cyUnder fitted inside with paddles which revolve and beat the 
cream into butter, out of which the remaining traces of mUk 
are removed, and the butter, lifted out by wooden spades, is 
pressed into boxes or barrels carefully Uned with butter paper. 
The mUk is placed in the can at the farm, and the first hand to 
come into contact with it or the butter is perhaps the hand 
which picks up the hot toast after the butter has been put on 
the breakfast-table of the co-operator " somewhere in Scotland." 
Well over 400 tons of butter, produced under such conditions, 
is sent out from Enniskillen. Eight auxiUaries feed Enniskillen, 
besides the farmers from the neighbourhood. The auxiliaries 
are Gola, BaJnaleek, Florence Court, and " S " Bridge, all of 


which have been going since 1898 ; Gardner's Cross, 1899 ; 
Blacklion, 1901 ; Glenfame, 1902 ; and Moneah, 1908. The 
butter transferred from Enniskillen since the beginning amounted 
in value to over a mUUon and a half sterling. At the auxiUaries 
the milk is separated and the cream dispatched to Enniskillen 
to save the multipUcation of butter plants. The Enniskillen 
establishment gives emplo5anent to over 100 persons, whose 
wages bUl ran into £10,000 per year in the fiftieth year. That 
is of some service to the people in the neighbourhood ; but it 
is not the only advantage. The farmer no longer brings his box 
of butter to the market to sell for cash, part of which might be 
spent. He sends his milk ; his accounts are paid fortnightly ; 
he and his womenfolk are saved the trouble of buttermaking ; 
the money comes regularly ; the wife and her husband can 
consult together as to what can be done with it ; and the general 
effect is towards improvement in domestic conditions. 

The most exacting test of the quality of Irish butter is the 
system of surprise butter competitions and inspection under 
Government control. The farmers and owners of creameries 
who agree to enter for these competitions are pounced upon at 
any time without notice, and samples of their butter are taken 
to be tested. The awards are made on the result of the analyses 
and other tests applied. In 1910 there were seven such com- 
petitions, and the S.C.W.S. obtained three first prizes and two 
seconds ; in 1912 there were seven, and the S.C.W.S. took five 
firsts ; and, in all, between 1903 and 1914, the Enniskillen 
creamery was awarded seventeen first and eleven second 
prizes in the surprise competitions. It is a record of which 
neither the S.C.W.S. nor the Enniskillen manager need be 

What is being done so successfully at Enniskillen is also 
being done on a smaller scale at Bladnoch and Whithorn in 
Wigtownshire, and the user of " fresh " butter who purchases 
that commodity at the " store " wiU find that many of the 
prints used have the name Bladnoch as a guarantee that it is 
a first-class Co-operative production. The situation of the 
Bladnoch creamery, estabhshed in 1899, is scarcely less charming 
than that of Enniskillen, and it is something to know that the 
Wholesale directors have made it their business to choose such 
delightful sites for estabUshments engaged in the production of 


foods that are very susceptible to impurities in the atmosphere. 
Bladnoch is on the banks of the Bladnoch, near Wigtown, where 
it enjoys the fragrance of the sea breezes that are wafted in from 
the arm of the Solway firth that is named Wigtown Bay. 
Under the control of the same manager is the Whithorn 
creamery, established subsequently. This is about fifteen mUes 
distant in the same county, nearer the extremity of the peninsula, 
where it feels the effect of the sea air from east, west, and south. 
There is no dust-laden atmosphere to contaminate the products. 
The estabhshments, both at Bladnoch and Whithorn, are 
equipped with the latest plant and machinery, and there is a 
special electrical installation in both places. The processes carried 
on are similar to those at EnniskUlen. A normal year's output of 
butter from the two establishments may be reckoned at 270 tons. 
The chief importance of Bladnoch now is its margarine 
industry. Before the war margarine was not popular even in 
the working-class home, and while people who were known to 
be well-to-do had no hesitation about using margarine for 
cooking and baking, many working people who used margarine 
did not seem to want people to know about it. That was one 
of the chief reasons why co-operators who bought margarine 
very frequently bought it at some of the multiple shops that 
speciahsed in that commodity. Adversity makes strange bed- 
fellows, however. The submarine cut off Danish suppUes, and 
the price of butter rose to a serious extent, with the result that 
a phenomenal demand for margarine was created. The S.C.W.S. 
factory produced about 20 tons of margarine per week before 
the war, but now it produces 200 tons per week, and extensive 
additions to the factory, which are in process, would have been 
completed before now if it had not been for difficulties surrounding 
the suppty of labour and building material in the acute stages of 
the war. 

Milk is an essential item in the production of the margarine. 
This reaches the creamery by means of the S.C.W.S. collecting 
motors, which cover a wide area, or it is conveyed by the fanners 
nearer the factory. At the receiving platforms at the works the 
milk is run into a vat, where it is tested and weighed, and it is 
then discharged along chutes into the collecting vats. Pasteurisa- 
tion follows and the milk is subsequently separated. The skim 
milk is then passed over refrigerators and the cooled milk is 


pumped into the souring vat, where it remains till " ripe." 
Upon the accurate conduct of this part of the process the value 
of the margarine depends, for the taste is regulated by the 
degree of sourness the milk attains. The oils that go to the 
production of the margarinp have meanwhile been in preparation. 
These are chiefly cocoanut, palm kernel, or cotton-seed oils, 
which are largely bought in the open market. During the war 
the Wholesale was handicapped very seriously through not 
having its choice of oils. From its West African possessions,* 
now, it expects to be able to derive substantial supplies when 
the world settles down, but the Society will take the best from 
anywhere. The sister federation in England owns an oil mill 
at Liverpool, where palm kernels are crushed, and as the over- 
seas possessions of the two Societies are in process of being 
scheduled as the joint property of both, as in the tea partner- 
ship, f they will be able to be of service to one another in the 
supply of materials. The oils, when they are required for use 
at Bladnoch, are tipped into melting tanks. The soUd oUs are 
first of all shredded in a machine invented by one of the 
employees at Bladnoch, whose ingenuity was suitably rewarded 
by the directors. The oils, when ready for use, are mixed prior 
to their mixing with the mUk. The hquid is passed through a 
churn ; the residting emulsion passes through chilled water, 
where it is crystallised into margarine and precipitated into 
tanks. The produce is skimmed into trucks, rolled, kneaded, 
and blended, and then packed when ready. Even the packing 
boxes are made at Bladnoch. 

Thousands of gallons of milk arrive at the creameries each week. 
Some of this is used for cheese-making — during a normal year 
it amounted to about a million gallons — ^but, in the winter time 
especially, considerable quantities have been sent to Glasgow. 
An important by-product of the cheese-making is whey. For 
this the Wholesale would have no particular use, so at Bladnoch 
it is pumped through pipes to the piggeries, three-quarters of a 
mile away. There is a piggery at Whithorn also, the inhabitants 
of which are also large consumers of this and other material 
for which the Wholesale has no other convenient use. The pigs, 
when brought to the " pink of perfection,'' are transferred to 
the ham and bacon curing factories of the Wholesale. | 
* See page 432. t See page 232. t See page 359. 


These two creameries and the margarine factory serve a 
very useful purpose. We heard a reverend gentleman in Sauchie 
describe how he used to dehght in seeing the big Wholesale 
motors coming along the road to his father's farm in the 
Bladnoch area, and he told how splendidly the Wholesale 
helped the farmers in the district by providing them with this 
ready market for their milk, at fair prices promptly paid for the 
regular supplies. There are now about 200 workers employed 
here, and there are the beginnings of a flourishing little 
Co-operative community. Mr A. M'Gaw has charge of both 
creameries and the margarine factory, and was, indeed, released 
from the Army to enable the Wholesale to get on with the 
production of margarine. He succeeded the late Mr Robert 
Green, who helped to put Bladnoch on a sound foundation. 

Besides EnniskOlen, Bladnoch, and Whithorn, the S.C.W.S. 
has recently acquired, by purchase, creameries at Stranraer, 
Sandhead, and Drummore, all in Wigtownshire ; and at Baity- 
money, in Ireland ; but the purchases are so recent that they 
have not augmented the volume of Wholesale productions in 
the fifty years of Wholesale Co-operation with which this 
record deals. 

The supply of milk itself was a serious matter for Co-operative 
societies for some time. The demand for this article is so wide- 
spread, and a supply is so essential for the health of everybody, 
that large societies — especially those which did not enter into 
the trade until the membership was very large — ^find it a problem 
to embark upon the milk trade. Even societies that did begin 
to cater for a small membership found the task very considerable 
when the membership grew. MUk cannot be produced in a 
factory, and the societies had to go farther afield in search of 
suppUes, with the result that they found themselves frequently 
and unconsciously competing with one another for supplies from 
the same farmers. The idea of having extensive farms upon 
which aU kinds of essential produce could be raised — including 
cattle and milk — ^had been entertained for a considerable time, 
and this idea was largely in the minds of the directors and 
shareholders when Calderwood Estate was purchased.* The 
estabUshment of the Ryelands milk-collecting centre in 1909 
was an important step even then overdue. Calderwood was 

* See page 422. 


stocked with milch cows, and the directors entered into 
negotiations with the farmers in the Strathaven district. It 
was intended to organise a regular supply of milk for the 
collecting centre, from which it could be distributed to societies' 
dairy departments within reach of the Wholesale's fleet of motor 
vehicles. A meeting of farmers was convened early in 1909. 
About a hundred attended the meeting and about eighty of 
them promised to support the scheme. The centre was pretty 
much of an experiment. It was not thought that a wide area 
could be supplied from there, but it was intended to establish 
similar departments of the Wholesale to meet the needs of other 
industrial areas. Ryelands, which is near Strathaven, has 
served a useful purpose. It supplies societies with milk, butter- 
milk, butter, and cheese, and disposes of nearly half a million 
gallons of mUk per year, about 50,000 gallons of which are 
derived from Calderwood Estate. During recent years a number 
of the retaU societies have begun to face the milk and other 
food problems a priori by the purchase of large estates suitable 
for farming enterprises. 

Towards the end of 1918 additional creameries were 
purchased at Kirkmichael (Ayrshire) and East Kilbride. 


The sausage factory, in the building which occupies the comer 
of Park Street and Smith Street, Kinning Park, dates back to 
1892 when the factory was established in underground premises 
in Morrison Street. It was not in accordance with Co-operative 
ideas of hygiene ; but it was not intended that those premises 
should be more than temporary. The factory was afterwards 
removed to Crookston Street, behind the site of the present 
central premises. A fire there necessitated a removal to 119 
Paisley Road, where it remained tiU the present premises were 
allotted to it on the completion of the building. 

The work of the factory includes not only the production 
of sausages and cooked meats, but the preparation of cuts of 
beef, pork, and mutton for sale to societies. The work is 
carried on in five flats of the building, all of which are spacious 
and well adapted to their present use. The basement is used 
for curing and pickling corned beef and tongues. The ground 


flat, which commiinicates by means of an elevator with all the 
other flats, is the packing department, and is equipped with 
loading tables which are easily approached by vans and lorries. 
The first flat is the butchery department proper, which is 
admirably provided with travelling gear so that carcasses and 
parts may be removed without difficulty from one part of the 
department to another. The equipment is all of the latest, 
including two large refrigerators. On the second flat the spicing 
and mixing of the meat and the filling of the skins are conducted. 
The third floor is utilised for the preparation of cooked meats, 
puddings, and lunch sausage, the last two being filled by 
hydraulic filling machines. In all these departments every 
facihty and aid to cleanliness is provided, and strict attention 
is paid to sanitation and ventilation, the result being that the 
place is free from that unpleasantness which is so marked a 
feature of many establishments devoted to these purposes. 

Many small societies that do not pretend to do a fleshing 
trade sell sausages and cooked meats, and many large societies 
that do fleshing trade sell sausages and cooked meats in their 
grocery departments. The Wholesale began this factory to 
supply the sausages ; but it could not Idll cattle and pigs only 
for the manufacture of sausages, and so the societies began to 
sell chops, steaks, cuts of boiling beef, etc., until they popularised 
the Co-operative meat, and were eventually able to estabUsh 
their own fleshers' shops and do their own killing and dressing. 
The sausage factory, therefore, enabled many societies to enter 
into the fleshing business, in which some of them have had 
singular success. The chief products of the factory are Oxford, 
Cambridge, tomato, picnic, ham and tongue, and luncheon 
sausages and lunch rolls — ^not to mention haggis when required, 
together with a large variety of meat puddings. The cooked 
meats produced include " London brawn " ; veal, ham, and 
tongue ; spiced beef ; braised beef ; chicken and veal ; ox 
tongue ; and roast gigot. These — except, of course, the gigot 
— are packed in glass jars and hermetically sealed ; and the 
Wholesale's cooked meats are in high favour. All the pork 
used in the factory is reared at Calderwood, Bladnoch, and 
Enniskillen — the sausage factory takes its pork from nowhere 
else. In this building, also, the Glasgow ham-curing factory is 


Enniskillen's bacon-curing factory is of growing importance. 
Its piggery is the chief feeding ground for the factory. Pig 
breeding is not engaged in ; but the Wholesale buys its pigs 
young, and rears them until they reach the age and condition 
-at which they yield the largest quantity and best quaUty of 
bacon. The Ennisldllen* estabhshment of the Wholesale is 
■described more graphically in the section relating to creameries ; 
but it should be said here that the piggery occupies an ideal 
situation on a hill-top close to the curing factory, where every- 
thing is conducted on the most hygienic principles. The 
piggeries provide accommodation for 600 pigs. The Enniskillen 
branch does not cure all the pigs it handles, for, in the last 
pre-war year it purchased 29,140 pigs, of which only 2,129 
Tvere transferred to the branch, and others were shipped to 
Kilmarnock and elsewhere. In the factory the latest methods 
are employed, and the place is a veritable network of curing 
rooms and refrigerators, roUing rooms and dispatch rooms. 
In 1913, 18,940 cwt. of bacon was shipped to the S.C.W.S. 
■order, 8,399 cwt. of ham, and a considerable quantity of lard 
apart from the pigs transferred to other Wholesale estabhsh- 
ments. The trade was, of course, disorganised by the war, 
and the restriction of export from Ireland made it necessary 
to dispose of considerable quantities in Ireland ; besides which 
there were times when the Wholesale could not obtain all the 
pigs required to meet the needs of Co-operators. On that 
account the transfers from Enniskillen showed a considerable 
•decrease in the jubilee year. In 1917 the bacon shipped was 
22,343 cwt. and the ham 9,803 cwt., whereas in 1918 the figures 
fell to 10,796 cwt. and 4,468 cwt. respectively. The figures 
-show how the department was affected by control. We give 
the quantities rather than the price here, because between 
1914 and 1918 the average price of pigs in the dead meat 
markets in Ireland rose from 56/4 per cwt. to 149/9 P^r cwt. 


The Aberdeen Fish Market is one of the sights of the Granite 
City ; but, unlike an interesting ruin, it has the disadvantage 
•of being seen at its best at an hour when most people are abed. 

* See page 332. 


When the fishing craft of all kinds are landing their hauls, and^ 
on a day when there is a full supply, the market is stocked from, 
end to end with fish. 

At this great centre of supply the S.C.W.S. has had a station 
since 1899, during which period it has been under the charge of 
Mr W. C. Stephen, who all his hfe has been connected with the 
trade, and whose acquisition has been a decided advantage to- 
the Wholesale Society and its clientele. This estabUshment 
forms one of a large group all lying near the fish market and' 
between the railway and the Dee. From these places all dajr 
long come the fumes of burning wood, denoting that curing is 
in course of operation, and every now and again there appear on 
the street groups of sturdy, bare-armed females, their legs thrust 
into long sea-boots, who find employment there as fish-cleaners. 

The S.C.W.S. station is not an architectural feature of the 
Granite City. It is a plain btiilding, intended for use and not 
for ornament ; and it is the third that the Wholesale has had,, 
the others having outUved their usefulness because of the extent 
to which the trade has grown. The establishment has been an 
unqualified success from its very inception, although the trade 
has been seriously affected by the war owing to the restrictions 
placed upon fishing operations by the Admiralty. In normal 
times about 370 trawlers operated from Aberdeen ; and during 
the war there were only about 40. That, of course, is typical 
of most fishing ports under war conditions ; and those trawlers 
that were left were only small ones that could not face very 
stormy weather, the best having been converted into mine 
sweepers and patrol vessels. More than once the S.C.W.S. 
considered the wisdom of having its own trawlers ; but the idea 
had always been dropped because a considerable portion of the 
fish taken would be unsuitable for the Wholesale's trade, and the 
directors and their experts have considered it better to be able 
to secure the pick of the market. One of the chief duties of the 
manager at the Aberdeen station is to select fish at the busy 
market every day ; and, as the Wholesale does a cash trade, it 
can secure the best supplies available. While the war has so 
curtailed the fish suppUes, it is generally beUeved that the trade 
wiU be one of the first to recover from the effects of the war^ 
and the fact that the fish had been left in their natural element for 
several years should conduce to abundant supphes for some time. 


The Wholesale trade at Aberdeen covers cured fish, salted 
fish, fresh fish, cod liver oil, fish meal. The curing establishment 
is admirably equipped for deahng with large supplies of fish. 
First in importance comes the pale haddock, then finnans and 
smoked fiUets. The Wholesale Society, by the way, was one of 
the pioneers of the smoked fillet trade, which has proved an 
extremely popular line. Smoked Ung, smoked cod, salt ling, and 
salt cod and kippers are fairly big branches of the Aberdeen 
trade ; and the quantities of smoked haddocks and kippers 
suppUed by their station might properly be described as 
enormous. The salt fish trade was commenced in 1903 to keep 
the workers regularly employed. In 1906 the manufacture of 
fish sausages was commenced. The cod liver oil extracting 
department is one with excellent facihties, and the Wholesale 
is said to produce the best oil on the market. The Uvers are 
taken out of the fish as soon as they reach the station, and they 
are manipulated at once, so that the oil is produced under the 
best conditions, instead of leaving them to lie for several days. 
The fish meal, which is used for feeding stuffs or for fertilisers, 
is produced from fish offal. The fresh fish trade is expected to 
develop very largely as the retail societies enter more completely 
into the fish trade. 

Round figures relating to the output from this department 
show sales of 164,484 stones, valued at £23,681 in 1901 ; in 1903 
this had gone up to 230,595 stones valued at £38,320, to which 
had to be added 24 tons of salt fish, the handling of which only 
began in that year. The sales for 1914 amounted to 370,605 
stones (a decrease of 3,646 stones for the year, owing to war), 
118 tons of salt fish, 34 barrels of cod liver oil, and 13 tons of 
rough oil. As has already been pointed out, the whole fishing 
industry was disorganised during the next few years, and the 
cod liver oil production was especially hurt. For 1918 226,220 
stones of fish were disposed of, nevertheless, their value being 
£168,500 ; besides which there were 10,574 boxes of red herrings 


The sale of intoxicants by a Co-operative society is a bar to 
its joining the Wholesale, but the S.C.W.S., in order to satisfy 
the "appetite for drink," has developed a big trade in mineral 


waters and other non-intoxicating beverages. The supplies of 
minerals, or aerated waters, produced by the S.C.W.S. in its 
own works approach ^70,000 a year in transfer value. 

The production of these goods is carried on in four factories, 
the first of which was established in Glasgow in 1897. The 
Leith factory, housed in the buildings at Links Place, was 
established in 1898. Only three years later a factory had to be 
opened at Stirling as an auxiUary to Glasgow, and Leith had 
an auxiliary factory established at Dunfermline in 1906. The 
most important of the factories is the Glasgow factory. The 
considerable difference in its output as compared with the other 
factories ought to speak volumes for the greater temperance of 
the West of Scotland as compared with the rest of the country, 
but the rest of the country would probably resent any inference 
of that kind from the figures relating to these factories. The 
Excise Duty levied upon these goods during the war, the cost 
of materials, and the difficulty in securing bottles and syphons 
owing to war conditions, all tended to increase the price and 
to interfere otherwise with the progressive extension of the 
trade, and so the figures relative to 1918 are slightly below the 
figures relative to 1914. In 1914 the output was as follows : — 
Glasgow factory, 304,883 dozen bottles and 17,408 dozen 
syphons ; Leith, 103,529 dozen bottles and 1,061 dozen syphons ; 
StirUng 72,335 dozen bottles and 1,254 dozen syphons; 
Dunfermline, 107,211 dozen bottles and 320 dozen syphons. 
Total — 587,958 dozen bottles and 20,043 dozen syphons. In 
1918 the figures were :— Glasgow, 335.323 dozen bottles and 
35,238 dozen syphons; Leith, 48,390 dozen bottles and 685 
dozen syphons ; Stirling, 49,060 dozen bottles and 1,797 dozen 
sjrphons ; Dunfermline, 62,925 dozen bottles and 171 dozen 
syphons. Total— 495,698 dozen bottles and 37,891 dozen 
syphons. Worked out at the number of bottles of " fizzers " 
per year to every Co-operative family in Scotland, it does not 
seem as if Co-operators had taken to drink — drink of this kind 
— to a reprehensible extent ; nevertheless, the figures show that 
the trade is very considerable. 

The productions are of a varied character — except as to 
quality, which is invariably good. The constant grumble of the 
man who takes an occasional dram is that there are no " decent 
teetotal drinks." The S.C.W.S. has ahnost solved that man's 


problem for him by producing a hop ale which ought to satisfy 
him. There are other brands of hop ale, but many connoisseurs 
regard the S.C.W.S. production as an ideal drink — sharp, thirst- 
quenching, brisk, and free from the sticky sweetness that makes 
so many teetotal drinks objectionable. In 1920, it is anticipated, 
Scotland wiU have the opportunity of exercising its own wUl 
under the Licensing Act which comes into force. There will, 
undoubtedly, be a big wave of opinion turning towards 
Prohibition, and the concern which provides the most palatable, 
healthy, and desirable temperance beverage wiU do a service to 
a community which is likely to make a big change. The success 
of the S.C.W.S. in the production of this non-intoxicant hop ale 
augurs well. 

In 1916 the Glasgow factory, tiU then in Paterson Street, 
was transferred to St James Street, Kinning Park. It is a 
model factory in which, hke aU S.C.W.S. factories for the 
preparation of articles to be eaten or drunk, everything possible 
is done to secure purity. Loch Katrine water has an excellent 
reputation for its purity and wholesomeness, but it does not 
come up to the S.C.W.S. standard of perfection, and so the 
water is all filtered in the factory and is thereafter passed 
through tin tubes, so as to secure absolute protection against 
lead poisoning. While this precaution is taken with regard to 
the water that is to be used, the utmost precautions are also 
taken to secure the cleanUness of the bottles. The syrup room 
is a notable feature of the factory. Here the various syrups or 
essences are mixed to produce the various aerated waters as 
required. The gas generating plant for aeration purposes is also 
on an extensive scale, for the Wholesale is hopeful that, much 
as the trade in aerated waters has grown, it may be quadrupled 
before long. The carbonate process is used in connection with 
the brewing of hop ale. The trade in syphons of minerals is 
rapidly growing, and should grow even more rapidly when all 
the war's obstacles are removed. The syphon-fiUing plant 
installed in the new factory disposes of thirty dozen per hour. 
The bottHng plant for the mineral waters is quite the latest 
equipment of the kind, and the last record can be left behind 
quite easily. The factory is probably one of the best equipped 
in the trade. 



Shieldhall will be associated with Glasgow's greatness for 
generations to come by all who measure a city's greatness by 
the happiness and prosperity of its people. Co-operators know 
what their own enterprise there has done for the welfare of the 
people, not only in Glasgow but all over Scotland ; nevertheless, 
it is well that those who own the great factories which give 
employment to thousands of persons there should know 
something more of the place than most of them do. 

The name Shield Hall was once as well known in society 
circles as Shieldhall is in Co-operative circles. Ten years ago 
the old mansion of Shield Hall estate might have been seen, 
but its glory has faded now. It does not stand on S.C.W.S. land. 
It stands on a site now hidden by the adjacent sawmills. It 
was a stately mansion in its time, with its conservatories and 
vineries, its old-time gardens, and its old-time sundial. Its 
stables held the choicest hunters and its kennels the fleetest 
hounds. Its rooms housed many a brilliant throng and its 
tables bore many a princely feast. Like most mansions, too, 
it had a skeleton lurking in one of its cupboards, for one of its 
occupants hanged himself in the garden. 

The records of its owners and the characteristics and history 
of the old house formed the subject of at least two articles in 
the Co-operative News, and an interesting little article also 
appeared, shortly before the building was dismantled, in the 
Evening Times, the contributor being Mr T. C. F. Brotchie. 
From these we cull the notes which follow for the information 
of Co-operators generally. 

The first portion of the house was erected about 1720 by 
BaiUe Thomas Hamilton of Glasgow. Misfortune followed him 
and he had to sell out. Several other occupants had but shori 
tenure of the place, and in 1746 the mansion and its lands were 
purchased by John Wilson, who was wealthy enough to make a 
gift of £450 to the Town's Hospital. (If we are not mistaken, 
the same John Wilson was Town Clerk of Glasgow, and had his 
office in a close in Saltmarket, long known as Wilson's Close.) 
Wilson's successor had no better luck than Bsdlie Hamilton, 
and his creditors sold him up. Shield Hall fell to Alexander 
Oswald, a Glasgow merchant, whose family did much for the 


"welfare of the city for a century and a half. Richard Oswald 
and his brother Alexander were weU known in Glasgow in the 
early part of the eighteenth century as merchants and ship- 
owners. They owned three ships out of Glasgow's total foreign 
fleet, which only numbered forty-one brigantines and sloops in 
1735. These three vessels traded very largely between Glasgow 
and the West Indies, Madeira, and Virginia, deahng chiefly in 
tobacco and wine. Their stores were constructed in Oswald's 
Land, in Stockwell. Oswald Street, which runs from the 
Broomielaw to Argyle Street, is named after the family, because 
part of it formed the garden of the family's town house, which 
was one of two mansions which, when Argyle Street began to 
be built in, lost their former glory and constituted business 
premises which, from the trade of the Oswalds in Madeira wine, 
came to be called Madeira Court. The Alexander Oswald who 
purchased Shield Hall was a son of Richard Oswald and the 
nephew of Richard's partner in trade. Richard and Alexander 
were sons of the Rev. James Oswald of Watten, and they had 
a cousin, the son of the Rev. George Oswald of Dunnet. This 
cousin came to Glasgow, but settled in London, paying frequent 
visits to North America, where he had acquired large possessions. 
In 1782 he signed, as a British Commissioner, the preUminary 
articles of peace between Great Britain and the United States 
of America which recognised the independence of our former 
colonies. On the American side the treaty was signed by 
Benjamin FrankUn and John Adams. Alexander Oswald, the 
first of the family to occupy Shield Hall, was a man of pohtical 
opinions so advanced that he incurred the displeasure of many 
of his feUow merchants in the city, and it is said that a warrant 
was actually issued for his arrest. It was hostihty such as this 
that made him give up his house in town, and take to the 
seclusion of Shield Hall. He was a man who never hesitated 
to give his personal or material help to any movement for the 
elevation of the people of Glasgow. Among his purchases of 
land in the city was Windmill Croft, part of which constitutes 
Kingston Dock.* 

It is interesting, therefore, to know that the first S.C.W.S. 
premises in Madeira Court were situated in property that once 
belonged to this family, that the Shieldhall Works are built 

*See page 303. 


upon what constituted part of Alexander Oswald's estate, and 
that the present central premises are also built on ground that 
was once his. 

Alexander Oswald died at Shield Hall in 1813. His son 
James, who succeeded him, was one of the Glasgow pioneers of 
Reform, and was one of the two members chosen to represent 
Glasgow in ParUament in the first election following the passing 
of the Act. He sat in Parliament from 1832-1837, and again 
from 1839-1847. He was also one of Glasgow's ten delegates 
at the World's Convention in London, in 1840, to oppose the 
slave trade, and his personal companions were Daniel O'CormeU. 
and the anti-slavery orator, George Thomson. He succeeded 
to a family estate in 1841 and removed there. A Glasgow 
merchant, Alexander Johnstone, who was M.P. for Kilmarnock 
Burghs for a time, acquired the estate in 1841 ; his son 
succeeded in 1844, but in 1855 he died, leaving the estate in 
trust. It was sold to James Scott and John Proudf oot, merchants, 
in 1872 ; in 1875 it was sold to Robert CasseUs, an iron merchant, 
and then passed into the possession of the Glasgow Iron & 
Steel Co. Ltd. 

Mr Maxwell complained of having to pay £500 per acre, for 
the ground at Shieldhall when the first portion was bought in 
1887, and complained of the price having risen to £1,000 per 
acre in 1905. It has been mentioned already * that the price 
had risen to £1,400 per acre in 1914. The S.C.W.S. found the 
price almost trebled in twenty-six years. In 1841, when James 
Oswald left Shield Hall, the whole estate fetched £33,000. 
"When it was sold in 1872, thirty-one years later, it had more 
than trebled, for the price was £113,000 ; and three years 
later, when it changed hands again, Robert CasseUs paid 
£158,000 for it. 

The present appearance of Shieldhall is likely to be subjected 
to considerable alteration. The change which has made 
Morrison Street a leading thoroughfare instead of a " back 
street " f is an indication of what is Ukely to happen at 
Shieldhall. The Clyde Navigation Trust have akeady obtained 
Parliamentary authority for the construction of a new dock, 
which will cause a diversion of the Renfrew Road (on which the 
entrance to Shieldhall Works is situated). The road which runs 
* See page 129. -f See page 304. 


(1) Jute Yarn Winding Department. (2) Jute Weaving Department. 



3 t 

UJ ^ 

< ^ 


along the west side of the works will be the only division 
between the works and the new dock, and will still lead to 
Renfrew, as the old Paisley Road along the Kingston docks 
leads to Paisley, but it is not Ukely to be the main thorough- 
fare, because it will mean a long road. There are plans in 
existence, recently prepared by the city authorities, for the 
construction of a new road which will skirt the south side of 
the new dock and proceed eastward, almost in a straight line, 
till it joins with Paisley Road West. That will probably be 
the main thoroughfare, and what now constitutes the front of 
Shieldhall Works may become the back, as the old front 
of the Drapery Warehouse is no longer the front entrance. 
Posterity, however, will appreciate, perhaps even more than 
present-day Co-operators, the picture of the Shieldhall front 
as it was intended to be. The front has been completed on the 
west side of the handsome gateway (the visitor's right on 
entering the works). Shortly before the war broke out it was 
intended to proceed with the erection of the other wing, but 
the war stopped that enterprise owing to the restrictions on 
building and the cost of materials, and, in view of the prospective 
changes outlined above, the plans may not now be completed. 
Passengers on the trams between Glasgow and Renfrew used 
to enjoy the vista of orderly and clean roadways between the 
various factories. Within the gates there are about thirty 
different industries carried on, and it is doubtful if such a hive 
of varied industries exists anj^where else. There are over 
5,000 employees engaged there producing food, furniture, boots 
and clothing ; packing cases are made for the dispatch of the 
goods ; all kinds of tinware containers are made for the goods ; 
wrappers and labels are printed for the making up of the goods ; 
bags and boxes are made for the use of the societies selling the 
goods over the counter ; stationery is produced, printed, and 
bound for the business of the Wholesale and its members. The 
engineering department fits up and repairs the machinery, and 
keeps the electric power and light in order. A weU-equipped 
and well-trained fire brigade protects the factories by constant 
inspection and ceaseless watchfulness and readiness to answer 
the automatic alarm installation in every department. Fully 
skilled and equipped ambulance corps are ever ready to render 
first aid in the works, in which the most generous safeguards 

2 A 


are in use on all machinery to reduce the risk of accident to 
a minimum. A private telephone exchange keeps communica- 
tion open between Shieldhall and the rest of the island. 
C6mmodious dining rooms are provided, in which meals are 
served by the Society's own catering department, whose aim 
is service and not profit. 


The Wholesale Society sold more than two and a half million 
pairs of boots and shoes in igi8. That, in the language of our 
American cousins, is " some trade " at a time when the 
constantly rising price of boots led the average worker to 
conclude that purchases should be deferred, unless comfort and 
respectability made the purchase imperative. There was a time 
when " a few bundles of slippers " constituted the Wholesale's 
stock in footwear, but that is long ago. The establishment of 
the drapery department led to developments in the boot and 
shoe trade, and as the trade grew the making of boots and shoes 
was a natural consequence of the selling of boots and shoes. 
The chief cause of lament among the Wholesale directors and 
the buyers for the retail societies is that there is such a difference 
between the quantity sold by the S.C.W.S. and the quantity 
made, but the difference is being rapidly reduced because of the 
excellent quaUty, style, and variety of the Wholesale productions. 

The Wholesale's interest in boots and shoes is divided over 
several establishments — ^namely, the factory at Shieldhall, the 
auxihary factory at Adelphi Street, Glasgow, the tanning and 
currying department at Shieldhall, and the boot and shoe 

The factories are two in number — the Shieldhall factory and 
Parkview factory. The Shieldhall factory originated in the 
drapery department's building, near the central premises, in 
1884, but in 1888 it was transferred to Shieldhall. The factory 
was opened in January, and in the March following Mr Peter 
Macfarlane, who is now manager, joined the staff. In 1894 
Parkview factory was erected on ground secured at Adelphi 
Street, Glasgow. It is an auxihary to the Shieldhall factory, 
and speciaUses in footwear for boys and girls and in sHppers. 
It is an important auxihary, however, which employed 261 


persons before the war disorganised the labour supply. In that 
year the Shieldhall factory employed 1,050 persons, and 135 
were employed in the warehouse. When boot and shoe produc- 
tion was first undertaken the output from the factory for the 
first year averaged 370 pairs per week. In 1913 the total output 
from the factories averaged 15,160 pairs weekly, or considerably 
over three-quarters of a million pairs for the year. In 1914 
a serious fire in the factory disorganised the production con- 
siderably from the month of February, and before the damage 
done could be restored the war had broken out, leather was 
commandeered for miUtary purposes, and restrictions of that 
kind, prevailed almost to the end of 1918, so that in the jubilee 
year the total output had dwindled to about 550,000 pairs. 
The gradual removal of restrictions on supphes of leather is 
welcomed, not only by the directors and managers of the 
S.C.W.S., but by the managers of the retail societies and their 
members, for during the years in which the factories developed 
and extended the demand for Shieldhall boots and shoes had 
grown enormously. Co-operators had acquired a liking for 
Shieldhall productions because of the excellent wear they gave, 
because of the finish of the goods, and because of the rapidly 
extending variety of " fits " that could be obtained from their 
own factories. A member of the Glasgow Corporation declared 
one evening at a Co-operative gathering that he had discovered 
that the best value and satisfaction he could get in boots came 
from ShieldhaU boots, and that the best and most durable 
repairs he could get done were done by the Co-operative society 
in his district. His experience was common to most Co- 
operators, and to that is due the great extent of the Shieldhall 
factory, which is the largest boot factory in Scotland and the 
largest factory in Shieldhall. In a normal year no fewer than 
80,000 goatskins were required for glace kid boots and shoes, 
and 200,000 hides were used, besides more than 300 tons of sole 
leather. These supplies are obtained from Britain, India, 
Canada, Africa, America, and some were obtained from Germany 
before the war. 

The boot factory is in the large range of buildings on the 
left after passing through the gateway in Renfrew Road ; and 
the visitor on entering is simply bewildered by the intricate 
masses of machinery. AU the best firms engaged in the pro- 


duction of bootmaking machinery have contributed to the 
equipment of this factory. The operations are so numerous 
and are carried out by such a division of labour that one wonders 
how the old shoemaker of St Crispin's time could sit down at 
his door and proceed to make a pair of boots. Incidentally it 
may be mentioned that employees of the Wholesale went 
through the red struggle at Soissons, the town in which 
St Crispin and his brother worked at the craft in the third 
century. The utmost care is taken in the designing of the lasts 
to suit the numerous tender shapes of the foot. The patterns 
having been properly prepared, they are passed into the cUcldng 
room along with the necessary supplies of leather. The clicking 
process is the cutting out of the boot tops — including quarters, 
vamps, toecaps, counters, goloshes, and linings. Much of the 
•work is hand done, because the chcker has to examine the skins 
and to obviate as much waste as possible. Rougher quahties, 
however, are cUcked by machinery. The various parts required 
to complete a boot top are put together, and these are sent in 
gross bundles to the machine room or closing room. The sole 
leather, it should be added, is cut out by means of dies, shaped 
with the same consideration for the fact that the Co-operative 
movement sets out to cover and protect aU kinds of feet. In 
the closing room there are machines of wonderful ingenuity. 
Some are of the ordinary sewing machine type, some have twin 
needles in operation, and some make several stitches simul- 
taneously while parts are trimmed off at the same time the 
stitching is proceeding. Some machines used for button-hohng 
punch the necessary holes in the leather, and stitch the edges 
at the rate of 6,000 holes a day ; while others complete 200 
eyelets per minute. From the closing room the boots proceed 
to the bottoming room where the soles and the uppers are joined. 
The soles are hammered into the shape of the foot by machinery ; 
the channel for the stitching is cut by machinery. The lasting 
machines puU the uppers over the inner soles and join the two 
parts. Welts are sewn on by machinery in thirty seconds ; 
the soles are cemented into position ; the soles are stitched to 
the welts ; and the heels are added to the boot. In the finishing 
Toom the soles and heels are trimmed at the edges by traveUing 
knives ; revolving sand-paper wheels make the edges smooth, 
and polish the soles and heels ; after which the ShieldhaU trade 


mark is branded on every perfect boot. The next department 
is the treeing room, where the boots are " treed " to their proper 
shape and pohshed ready to wear ; but as the boots have 'to- 
be sold first, they are boxed, and the Shieldhall boot factory 
produces its own boxes. The cardboard is cut and stamped 
to make various sizes ; these are put together, and the boxed 
boots are then ready for dispatch to the warehouse or to the 
purchasing society. -The leather stock room is a large part of 
the estabUshment ; and even in preparing the leather for the- 
operatives the old shoemaker's methods are discarded, for the 
leather, instead of being hammered on the old-time lapstone, 
is subjected to treatment, which effects the same purpose, by 
powerful rollers. 

The Wholesale began to do the currying of part of its own 
leather in 1889, and the tanning factory was established in 
1894. Both departments are adjacent to the boot factory. 
The raw hides are first salted to prevent decay tiQ they reach 
the tannery. At the tannery they are soaked in water and 
then in lime pits to eliminate the salt and clean the hides. The 
Hme-pit treatment also loosens the hairs, and the next process 
is the removal of the hairs and fleshing. The skins are then 
washed to remove the Ume, fat glands, and what is called " lime 
soap " which is created by the action of the lime on the animal 
fat. From this stage they are transferred to the actual tanning 
pits, where the skins are deposited in liquors which are gradually 
increased in strength till the tanning process is completed and 
the skin is transformed into leather. It is not yet in the con- 
dition required for use, for it is stiff and crusty, and the currying 
factory's job is to convert this into the material fit for 
manufacture. The skins are dressed by various processes. 
The leather hide is " spht " to a uniform substance ; and the 
necessary grain, phancy, polish, and colour are secured before 
the leather reaches the clickers in the boot factory. The 
Wholesale could tan more leather ; but the policy is to prepare 
only the selected hides that it can use for its own high-class 
productions, and, as it is, it pits about a third of the hides it 
requires for the factory. 

The warehouse had its origin in the drapery warehouse, and 
the boot department occupied the portion at the corner of 
Paterson Street and Wallace Street, Glasgow. It is now 


situated at the extreme south end of Dundas Street, where it 
adjoins several other departments of the S.C.W.S. The building 
there was purchased in 1897 because it was thought it might be 
serviceable to the Society. It was plain, though substantial, 
and eventually the Society's master of works, Mr James 
Davidson, was instructed to prepare plans for its use as a boot 
warehouse. Extensive alterations were made to suit the new 
purpose, and the warehouse was opened with considerable 
ceremony in March 1902. It has been extended and improved 
since then to meet the trade, which has grown from £350,000 
to £1,330,000 in 1918. The basement is used for the storage of 
surplus stocks, packing cases, etc. There is a huge packing hall 
on the ground floor, but here also are the clerical departments, 
the managers' rooms, and special exhibition showcases, displaying 
the wide range of goods which the factories produce — from 
foot wear for the nursery to miners' boots, and, in the opposite 
direction, to the smartest footwear for ladies or gentlemen. 
The floors above are set apart for the various grades, heavy 
and fine, for men, women, and children. The stocks are such 
as are required in the boot and shoe departments of the retail 
societies, but they also comprise aU kinds of leather for use in 
the boot repairing departments which most retail societies have 


The printing department is, in many respects, one of the most 
interesting of the Shieldhall establishments. The department 
was inaugurated in 1887, when two small presses were installed 
in the grocery buildings in Clarence Street, Glasgow, with a 
staff of less than a dozen. The manager, Mr David Campbell, 
who is stiU at its head, was a master of his craft who had also 
a keen Co-operative enthusiasm, and so he made the department 
singularly successful from the beginning. In 1889 it was found 
necessary to transfer the department to " larger and more 
commodious premises " at Shieldhall, where the work grew so 
rapidly that extension after extension has had .to be made in 
the premises allocated to the printing and allied trades. 

Those allied trades are numerous. Bookbinding had been 
begun before the department went to Shieldhall. Paper ruling 


had also been begun in Glasgow. Bagmaking was commenced 
in 1889. Lithographic work was undertaken in 1891. A stereo 
and electrotyping department was opened in 1900. Boxmaking 
was added in 1903. Mechanical type-setting was also intro- 
duced in 1903, by which time the department had also its staff 
of artists. 

The demands upon the department are enormous. Its 
business is to, supply the factories, warehouses, and of&ces of 
the S.C.W.S. itself with tons of stationery, millions of labels 
and wrappers, countless showcards and packing boxes, to say 
nothing of the thousands of tons of ordinary printed matter 
for the Society's own business and for the business of the 
distributive societies ; and a walk through the department 
would convince a visitor that the orders pouring into Shieldhall 
must be enormous, for the S.C.W.S. has probably one of the 
biggest printing works in Scotland. It produces the Scottish 
Co-operator every week, which is a fairly big order by itself 
employing a substantial staff. The Co-operative societies' 
balance-sheets, published to give members all possible details 
of the business, are extensive documents containing bewildering 
masses of figures. These are produced, in most cases, quarterly, 
and, as much of the type has to be kept standing from quarter 
to quarter, the amount of material required is enormous and 
. the number of up-to-date printing machines is amazing. 
Monotype machines are used for setting up the type, and, despite 
the excellent equipment the department has in this respect, it 
is one of the busiest at ShieldhaU. Societies' rules, programmes 
for meetings, conferences, concerts, social gatherings, dances, 
and dinners, biUs and tickets for shop windows, reports by 
committees, committee minutes, price Usts (including the 
Wholesale's weekly hst), and checks for members' purchases 
are among the chief items that count in the way of letterpress. 
The multitudinous departments, offices, and shops of the 
Wholesale and the retail societies require an enormous quantity 
of account books. In this the printing department does a large 
business. Books with specially ruled pages are required, and 
the machines which turn out thousands of large sheets of writing 
paper ruled in blue, with red columns for money or other figures, 
arouse the curiosity and interest of most visitors. These sheets 
are ruled to suit all kinds of books from the ledger or the record 


book to the passbook in which the members' purchases at the 
store are noted ; the sheets are cut to the requirfed size, stitched, 
and bound to order. There is no account or record book too 
large or too small, too complicated or too simple, to be produced 
at Shieldhall. 

The bookbinding department is splendidly equipped and 
efi&ciently and expeditiously worked. The member's passbook 
is perhaps the simplest of its productions, but it also turns out 
books like Congress handbooks, to say nothing of presentation 
souvenirs bound in the richest of leather, embossed or blocked 
or tooled. The histories of more than a score of societies have 
been produced at Shieldhall, and one is always in doubt whether 
to admire most the accurate work of the compositor, the fine, 
clear production of the printer, the care and skiQ of the binder, 
or the taste of the Shieldhall artists who design the covers. 

The productive departments of the Society call upon 
Shieldhall for wrappers and labels, notably the confectionery, 
preserve, tobacco, soap, and chemical departments. The Utho 
process is that chiefly used for work of this kind, and in the 
production of these articles the artists and the lithographers 
are equally entitled to credit for the excellence attained and 
maintained. Every facihty is given to the staff for the 
production of first-clciss work, and the best and latest in 
materials, plant, and equipment are provided. The Shieldhall 
works were, we believe, the first in Scotland to use the rotary 
off-set Hthographic machine, which created quite a little 
revolution in Utho work. A drawback in Utho-rotary machines 
had always been the accumulation of water on the stone or 
plate. By the rotary " off-set " machine the difficulty was 
overcome. The impression, instead of being transferred from 
the stone to the paper, is first of all transferred to a rubber 
cylinder, which transfers it to the paper in much the same way 
as the cylinder of the ordinary rotary printing machine ; the 
fine work formerly obtainable only by the Utho process is 
secured, with a clearer impression and greater speed than in 
earlier rotary Utho machines. This is only one example of 
ShieldhaU's pioneering of improvements in methods. 

The artists' department is constantly busy, and many new 
and striking designs originate there. There is no Umit to the 
work of the department, and some great changes have been 


made in the class of work turned out. In earlier days the 
department undertook the execution of printing blocks for the 
Scottish Co-operator and for advertising leaflets when the process 
block had not attained its popularity and its present-day 
excellence. Then the picture was drawn on a slab of chalk ; 
the lines were etched out with a tool that resembled an awl 
with a slightly bent point to which was attached a tube and 
bulb by means of which the chalk powder scooped out was- 
blown off the surface. The slab then acted as a mould from 
which the printing block was made, and some of the old 
illustrations in the Scottish Co-operator bear witness to the skill 
with which the Shieldhall artists did their work. The most 
attractive of showcards and similar art productions are now 
designed at Shieldhall, and, within recent years, illumination 
for complimentary addresses and other articles for presentation 
has been undertaken with conspicuous success. The designing 
of the coloured work mentioned is a preliminary to the execution 
at Shieldhall of some splendid three-colour printing work. The 
average reader may be at sea as to what this means exactly, 
but most wiU have seen specimens of the highly artistic wall 
calendars issued year after year by the Wholesale Society, in 
some of which the pictures are the work of Shieldhall artists 
and in others of which the pictures are the work of artists of 
national and international repute. The reproduction of all 
these fine variations of colour by the printing press is one of the 
supreme tests of a printing department, and Shieldhall can 
present its specimens to any jury of experts confident of a 
highly satisfactory verdict. 

The boxmaking department, inaugurated in 1903, supplies 
ordinary pasteboard boxes for use in the Wholesale works and. 
in the retail societies. It has developed into a big branch of 
the Shieldhall business now, but plain work no longer marks- 
the limit of Shieldhall enterprise. The most artistic work 
imaginable is now turned out in the form of boxes not merely 
decoratively printed but exquisitely upholstered in velvet, 
silk, and satin, and other rich materials. These boxes are- 
meant to contain fancy bottles of perfume and other gift articles. 

The paper-bag industry, as carried on at Shieldhall, simply 
astounds the visitor. The products range from the coarse blue 
paper or brown paper bags in which sugar, fruit, and heavier 


articles are sold over Co-operative counters to the more 
delicate little bags in which sweets are sold. In fact, every kind 
of paper bag used in any Co-operative store is produced at 
Shieldhall. The machinery used is of wonderful capacity. 
The visitor sees the wheels go round ; a large reel of paper 
feeds the machine ; and when the paper emerges at the end 
of the machine it has been cut into shape, formed into a bag, 
the joins of the paper in each bag pasted and fixed, and the 
name and address of the Society for which it is intended printed 
on the side along with any other advertising matter ordered. 
In 1914 the S.C.W.S. stationery department sold 900 tons of 
block-bottom bags and more than 29 miUion biscuit bags. 
These were produced at ShieldhaU by means of these machines. 
The printing department occupies the first large building 
on the right immediately inside the ShieldhaU gate. It 
constitutes the only part of the Shieldhall front that has been 
•completed and is, naturally, the first department to which a 
visitor turns when on a trip to Shieldhall ; but the work under- 
taken there, as this brief description may perhaps indicate, is 
■so varied and interesting that many visitors do not get further 
than the printing department. Every paper and board 
producing country in the world is tapped for supplies of 
material, and the manager has frequently explored Northern 
Europe in search of the best sources of supply. The war affected 
the department very seriously owing to the restrictions upon 
paper supplies — restrictions to which the emaciated appearance 
of every newspaper in the country bore pathetic testimony — 
and the department was not the only Wholesale department 
that had to refuse to accept aU the orders sent in. Mr Campbell 
has excellent assistants, and he and the staff must often marvel 
when they recall that the value of the output of the department 
in 1888 — after a year's trial run — was only £3,200. In the last 
pre-war year the output was £70,587, and in 1918 it was 
£142,530. Shieldhall pioneered the forty-eight hours week in 
the city ; and the printing and allied departments employed 340 
persons in 1918 when military exigencies had demanded their 



Next to the feeding of the Co-operators of Scotland, the clothing 
of them is the most important function the movement has to 
perform, and, Uke everything else it attempts, the S.C.W.S. 
does this well. The sales in articles of clothing are included in 
the total recorded to the credit of the drapery warehouse ; but 
the value of the goods produced in the Society's own factories 
related to the drapery warehouse amounted, in 1918, to 
£357,464. These factories comprise the artisan clothing, 
ready-made clothing, bespoke clothing, juvenile clothing, 
underclothing, wool shirts, dress shirt (including laundry), 
waterproof, mantle, and hosiery (two) factories ; but do not 
include the tweed and blanket mills or the Taybank jute works. 
We might, indeed, include the products of the tweed mills, for 
their products go to the manufacture of clothing, and the 
enormous resources of the S.C.W.S. in the manufacture of cloth 
and clothing was one of the most cheerful discoveries the War 
Office made when hundreds of thousands of soldiers were being 
drilled in mufti because their uniforms could not be produced 
fast enough by the firms favoured with the earliest contracts. 
The first tailoring factory was inaugurated in 1881, in 
Dundas Street, Glasgow, where premises were rented. It was 
eventually transferred to Shieldhall, where it so developed that 
the original factory is represented by four distinct factories — 
the ready-made and artisan clothing factories, which occupy 
the buUdings immediately behind the dining rooms at Shieldhall, 
and the bespoke clothing and juvenile clothing factories which 
are both situated in Paterson Street, Glasgow. The artisan 
clothing factory came into being in 1S90 ; the bespoke was 
separated and transferred to Paterson Street in 1897, and the 
juvenUe factory has only had a separate existence in the 
accounts of the Society since 1912. AH kinds of ready-mades 
for men's and boys' ordinary wear are produced at Shieldhall ; 
the artisan factory is engaged in the manufacture of working 
clothing — serge jackets, moleskin trousers, dongarees, working 
skirts, and similar articles. The juvenile clothing factory has 
thoroughly established itself, and the output of smart suits 
for boys — from the everyday school rig-out to the most 
gorgeous " garb of old Gaul " — ^is highly satisfactory. The 


figures relating to these factories represent only the price for 
making up, the price of the cloth which is sent from the drapery 
warehouse not being included in the amount credited to the 
factory for its output. The bespoke clothing factory is 
differently conducted; for the garments made there are all 
made to measure from cloth picked by the wearer. The 
productions of all the factories are all excellent ; some of the 
most highly placed officials in the movement are admirably 
clothed by the bespoke department ; and the high standard 
of excellence shown is evidenced by the frequent and important 
contracts for uniforms — even for high poUce officials — placed 
with the Wholesale by public bodies. The bespoke factory 
accepts and fulfils orders from most of the Co-operative 
societies in Scotland — or from all that have not tailoring 
departments of their own. The value of the transfers from 
the various factories for the year 1918 was : — Ready-made, 
£40,644 ; artisan, £12,527 ; bespoke, £31.458 ; juvenile, 
£22,761. The war, naturally, depleted the factories of their 
workers ; but in 1914 when things were normal there were 
employed in the ready-made 465 workers and 272 machines ; 
artisan, 185 workers and 171 machines ; bespoke, 252 workers 
and 179 machines ; and juvenile, 117 workers and 114 machines. 
The factories may all be described as nearly ideal. They 
are large, well ventilated, and well Ughted ; and every attention 
is paid to the comfort and convenience of the employees. The 
machines are aU driven by power ; and the skill with which the 
work is done is marvellous. In the ready-made factories the 
goods are produced in bulk. The designing of the garment and 
the cutting of the cloth in order to secure style for the wearer 
and to eliminate waste in the factories are matters that require 
the application of skill and science. The shapes of the various 
pieces that go to make a garment are cut in metal, and from 
that the shape is chalked upon a piece of cloth which is placed 
upon three or four dozen pieces of the same sizfe. These pieces 
are placed upon the cutting machine, and a knife cuts through 
the lot, the " cutter " in charge of the operation having nothing 
to do but guide the cloth so that the knife will cut where the 
chalk line is. The various parts are then placed together so 
that the machinist is saved trouble ; and eventually backs, 
sides, coUars, sleeves, pockets, linings, stayings, etc., are 


properly stitched. The machines are adapted to various 
purposes ; and the workers all excel at their own operations, 
whether putting in pockets, making buttonholes, binding, 
pressing, or braiding. At every stage towards its completion 
•every garment is examined, and if it is not right it is not allowed 
to pass. The work is done at considerable speed ; but the 
departments all give satisfaction to their customers, even the 
ready-made departments engaged in the production of 
women's and girls' clothes. 

These factories do not exhaust the clothing factories. The 
waterproof and oilskin factory is one which has shown con- 
siderable enterprise. The making of waterproofs was commenced 
in 1896 in order to supply not only the S.C.W.S., but the 
English C.W.S. In 1911, the manufacture of oilskins was 
commenced, and the work was transferred to its present home 
in Park Street, Glasgow, in 1913. Mr William Boyd, who is 
stiU in charge of the factory, initiated both undertakings. The 
factory produces ladies' and gents' garments besides covers for 
vans and lorries, fishing stockings and oth er waterproof articles ; 
but it is more susceptible, so far as its production of garments is 
concerned, to the vagaries of fashion which may occasion an 
abnormal increase, or an abnormal decline in trade for a season. 
The factory does not only produce the finished articles, but it 
proofs the material used in making the articles. The light 
transparent oilskin coats which are sometimes very much in 
demand are made from Jap silk converted into " oilskin " ; 
and that conversion is effected in this factory, the best linseed 
5il being used in the process. From the production of one of these 
garments to the production of a weatherproof lorry cover is a 
far cry ; but the operations of the factory embrace both trades. 
The articles produced in the factory are highly popular. As 
many as 50,000 garments have been sent out in a single year ; 
and as an evidence of the progress of the factory, it may be 
mentioned that in 1912 it only employed 20 persons, but by 
1917 these had increased to 109. It should be added, also, 
that the factory has to its credit a number of important 
contracts from public bodies. 

The mantle factory, established in 1891, is another important 
branch of the clothing departments of the productive 
enterprise of the Wholesale. It began in Paisley Road, Glasgow, 


was transferred to Wallace Street, then to Shieldhall, but 
finally got back to the city, where it has found a home in 
the drapery warehouse buildings in Paterson Street. It has 
been a useful addition to the business, and it provides 
employment for about 60 persons, who work under the excellent 
conditions that prevail throughout the service. Mention must 
also be made of the blouse-robe factory — one of the latest — 
which was only getting into working order when the Jubilee 
year dawned. 

The various factories owned by the S.C.W.S. work in harmony 
with each other and some are closely related. This is specially 
so with regard to those connected with the clothing trade. 
Ettrick mill,* for example, spins wool into yarn. Part of the 
yarn is transferred to the hosiery factories, f Part of it is woven 
into cloth and sent to the S.C.W.S. clothing factories or sold 
to the distributive societies. The EngUsh Wholesale mills at 
Batley and Dewsbury are also requisitioned when necessary ; 
and the C.W.S. mills at Bury, where sheetings and linings are 
produced on 1,000 looms, also provide some of the materials 
required in the S.C.W.S. factories. The clothing of the 
Co-operators of Scotland is a big undertaking ; but the S.C.W.S. 
does its part of the job with singular success. 


In the historical section of this volume % the origin of the 
S.C.W.S. shirt factory is set forth, and in this section we are 
not concerned with its history so much as with the factory 
and its work. The shirt factory of 1881 was the Wholesale's 
first venture in production, and hke some of the other clothing 
factories it has been moved about a good deal since its inception. 
The shirt factory's first habitation was in Dundas Street ; from 
there it was transferred to Wallace Street, then to Shieldhall, 
and for some years it has been one of the important group of 
factories located at the south-end of Paterson Street. The 
factory was engaged not only in the production of shirts but 
in the production of artisan § clothing tiU 1890, and of under- 
clothing till 1901. Now there are two shirt factories — ^the wool 

* See page 406. f See page 386. 

X See page 119. § See page 379. 


shirt factory in Glasgow and the dress shirt factory at 
PotterhUl, Paisley. 

The shirt factories are both regarded as show places by the 
Wholesale shareholders and by advocates of rational relations 
between employer and employed. The trade was notoriously 
a sweated trade, and some shirt manufacturers still sweat their 
workers. The Trade Boards Acts and the growth of trade 
unionism among the workers have improved the position of the 
shirtmakers in general ; but the S.C.W.S. began its enterprise 
before the workers engaged in shirtmaking had these aids. 
The "V^Hiolesale Society reckoned it to be its duty to eliminate 
sweating from the first ; and it is with pride that all associated 
with the Society recall that the shirt factory began its 
operations with a recognised forty-four hours week, and began 
by paying wages which improved the position of the employees 
above that of the people employed in similar work by other 
manufacturers. The example of the S.C.W.S. gave a decided 
stimulus to the demand of the shirtmakers in the country for 
a better wage aU round. Many manufacturers argued that 
there was no profit in shirtmaking, and that higher wages than 
prevailed in the sweating factories could not be paid without 
jeopardising the business ; but industrial reformers met this 
argument by pointing to the S.C.W.S. to show that the supposed 
impossible was actually being done. The S.C.W.S. has given 
all its help to the anti-sweating movement, and it has exhibited 
at various exhibitions organised by the Anti-Sweating League 
and the Scottish Council for Women's Trades. Its contribution 
to these exhibitions has usually been to erect a number of shirt- 
making machines to show the actual conditions under which 
the girls work. 

The methods employed in the factory are much the same as 
those employed in the clothing factories. The material is cut 
in bulk by a band knife, and the shirts are built up bit by bit at 
the various machines, the net output representing three shirts per 
minute every working day. The shirts range from the blue 
flannel of the labourer to the fancy wool shirt of the young man 
about town ; and the transfer value of the shirts (exclusive of the 
value of the 550 miles of cloth used in the year) was £14,373 in 
1918. The factory employs about 140 persons; but the number 
was greater before the war disorganised the labour market. 


The dress shirt and collar factory, with which is combined 
a laundry, is situated at Potterhill, Paisley. The dress shirt 
iactory was originally situated at Leith, on the ground adjoining 
the Junction mill, where the business was inaugurated in 1901. 
There was a laundry attached to the factory, so that the dress 
-shirts and coUars might be sent out " ready to wear." The 
•situation was not happily chosen, and in 1904, to escape 
impurities of the atmosphere, the laundry was transferred to 
Chappelfield, Barrhead. It did not conflict, of course, with 
the Scottish Co-operative Laundry Association's estabUshment, 
which was specially established and equipped to do the laundry 
-work of the Co-operators of Scotland, for the Chappelfield 
laundry was only utiUsed for the dressing of the Wholesale's 
■own productions. Even this laundry did not serve the purpose 
so well as was expected, and in 1908 the Potterhill premises 
-were acquired and adapted for the purpose, and work was 
commenced there in January 1909. The latest methods of 
cleansing and dressing the shirts and collars were apphed, and 
the machinery was in some respects quite novel and ingenious. 
The laundry only occupied part of the building, and this fact, 
coupled with the consideration of delay and inconvenience owing 
±0 the distance between the factory and its related laimdry, 
led to the transfer of the dress shirt and collar factory to 
Potterhill also, the beginning being made there in 1912. 
Barrhead Co-operators did not Hke the transfer of the Wholesale 
laundry to Paisley, despite the behef that "it is not lost what 
a friend gets," and an election for a seat on the S.C.W.S. 
■directorate was fought on the issue. Barrhead won ; but the 
laundry was by then at Paisley. Leith Co-operators did not 
hke the transfer of the factory to Paisley ; but they were 
placated by the inauguration of a hosiery factory in the premises 
vacated by the shirt factory. The factory premises are large, 
and are well Hghted from the roof. The high roof is a desirable 
feature, and conduces to a better atmosphere than that which 
pervades most factories under other management. The dress 
shirt and collar factory, Uke Ettrick nuU, the waterproof 
factory, and the Taybank jute works, is run in the interests of 
the English and Scottish Wholesale Societies. It supplies both 
-Federations, and, although managed and financed by the 
"S.C.W.S., the profits or losses are allocated to the two societies 


1, 2, 4, 5. Types of Refugees. 3. The Castle School, 

6. Prize Day at the School. 


in proportion to purchases. The goods produced comprise what 
are commonly called " white shirts," fancy coloured dress and 
neglige shirts (except woollen shirts), collars, and cuffs. Much 
of the material used in the manufacture of these articles comes 
from the C.W.S. mill at Bury ; but it is worthy of note that 
99 per cent, of the dress shirts and collars sold by the Wholesale 
drapery department are taken from the Society's own factory, 
which, with the laundry, employs 300 persons assisted by 317 
up-to-date machines. All the workers required could not be 
obtained in the district, and stitching centres were established 
at Auchinleck and Kirkconnel, which have increased the 
production and have provided employment in districts where 
the necessary workers were available. 

In closing the reference to these shirt factories it may be 
remarked that the trade is one in which there is keen com- 
petition ; but the Wholesale prides itself on the fact that it 
leads the trade in the wages and conditions given to its 
employees. While that is so, the Society is still willing to 
improve the lot of the workers, and Co-operators may be 
interested in a statement once made to the writer by the manager 
of the drapery warehouse, who is largely responsible for the 
supervision of the factories allied with the warehouse. He was 
talking at the time about the custom of selling shirts at such 
prices as 3/ii|, 4/iii, 5/iii. etc., and he said : " If purchasers 
would pay that extra halfpenny on the shirt, we could afford 
to pay our workers 10 per cent, more wages." It woxild mean 
that a girl who was gett